Mr. Peter a IT professional got a LinkedIn connect request from Rachel, a chartered accountant and a crypto investor as per her profile. Peter had heard stories of people making lot of money fast in crypto, hence enquired Rachel about her experience. She won his trust by showing her wonderful returns and also offered him an entry to her select elite group of crypto investment group. Peter agrees and initially invests 10000 rupees and finds that in a week it doubles, and then Rachel encourages him to withdraw some to see its for real. Fully convinced Peter now invests most of his savings Rs one crore over a months time and when he now tried to withdraw, he got a error. When he checked with Rachel, she said since the withdrawal amount is huge, you have to deposit 20% of tax and made him deposit another 20 lakhs, when he was not able to withdraw then also, he checked with Rachel, she stopped responding and his user id also got blocked. Peter here was a victim of Pig Butchering scam.
In another incident, Mustafa an IT consultant was lured of a lucrative overseas Job offer in Thailand by an agent. He was taken there by agent, and then mentioned that the client location is in Myanmar and took them by road there. His passport and all his belongings gets confiscated and is told to work as a cyber scammer, when he protested he was beaten up and even given electric shocks. When he was not meeting targets, he was sold to another cyber criminal gang for 10000 dollars, when he asked for release, he was asked to pay 15000 dollars for release. This is another common type of pig butchering scam.
Pig butchering scam, first became popular in china where scammers gain the trust of the victim (regarded by the fraudsters as a pig) using social engineering and Impersonation methods and “fatten it up” or lure victim with fake job offer scams, shady high-return investment schemes, and crypto investments, etc. before the butchering — then take everything they have or loot them. what makes pig butchering scams more cruel is that the person scamming could also be a victim of another type of scam. As per one survey, the scammed amount here runs up to tens of thousands of crores in India itself. Last year China, where this scam became really popular initiated a major crackdown on the people involved in this type of scam internationally.
Precautions on how to protect oneself from pig butchering scams :-
- Always follow the principle of ‘ Zero Trust, Pause and Authenticate’ for all digital transactions and messages/offers from unknown numbers.
- Keep your social media profile locked or private.
- Do not accept friend requests without proper checking their background.
- Never click on a hyperlink or scan a QR code or install any App provided in a message or mail by a stranger.
- Be wary of hard to believe overseas offers and agents who try to persuade or force you take quick positive decision.
- Don’t be greedy. No matter how big the return people promise to offer you or investment offers in latest fads like crypto currency.
- Use Driving License or Voter ID instead of Aadhaar and PAN for verification of your name, age or address and do not share your Aadhaar and PAN card image with strangers.
If you are a victim of such fraud :-
Immediately call 1930 cyber helpline or file a complaint at cybercrime.gov.in website or nearby police station. Call up the bank to which you have transferred the money and request for a debit freeze on the amount you transferred. If you had shared Aadhaar, block it on Aadhaar website or mAadhaar app. If you think your device has malware infection, format or factory reset your device.
Legal remedies available to the victim :-
You can register a criminal case at your nearest cyber or regular police station, under the following legal sections or the Act as per sections prescribed by the police based on your case :
- Section 378(Theft), 419 (punishment for cheating by impersonation) and 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property), Section 424(extract data illegally), Section 441(criminal trespass) of Indian Penal Code(IPC)
- section 43 (Penalty and compensation for damage to computer, computing device etc.), section 65 (Tampering with computer), section 66 (punishment for computer related offences – a person committing data theft, transmitting virus into a system, destroying data, hacking, or denying access to the computer or network to an authorized person), section 66C(which prescribes penalties for identity theft and states that anyone who fraudulently or dishonestly uses a person’s identity information) and Section 66D (punishment for fraud by impersonation using computer resources) under of the Information Technology Act(IT) Act 2000.