‘Pig butchering’: a ‘global pandemic of scams’, explained

It starts with a seemingly innocuous text message:

Sender: Hi Kira, I’m hoping to make an appointment to have my dog ​​Marvin groomed. Please let me know when.

Answering machine: I’m sorry, I think you got the wrong number.

Nevertheless, the sender continues to chat, gaining the recipient’s trust until he hands over the money.

This technique is called « pig butchering », and it is a form of scam that is on the rise worldwide.

« These scam artists try to fatten their own paycheck by first talking to their victims, » ​​ProPublica reporter Cezary Podkul told CTV’s Your Morning on Monday. “Once they gain their trust, they psychologically manipulate them into depositing ever larger sums of their savings into bogus brokers and websites that scam syndicates have set up.”

Podkul tracked down victims around the world who had fallen in love with the lies of « good-natured » people they had struck up seemingly random friendships with online.

“It starts with a fake job offer that these victims of human trafficking find promising them a comfortable salary and good working conditions in a place like Cambodia, Laos or Myanmar,” Podkul explained. « Instead, they find themselves sitting in front of a computer, watching training materials on how to scam people online and contacting them and trying to start conversations with them, to get them out of their minds. savings. »

The term « pig slaughter » evokes the complexes where victims of human trafficking end up and are forced to scam people, Podkul said. Similar to how farmers fatten up pigs before slaughter, scammers attempt to « fatten » their paycheck by gaining and exploiting the trust of their victims.

Beyond SMS, scams are also perpetrated on social networks and dating platforms. Podkul says if you come across a « friendly stranger » online, who regales you with stories of their profitable life, that could be a red flag.

The Canadian Center to End Human Trafficking website describes the human trafficking trade as a “low risk/high reward activity” because the crime is difficult to track.

“Unlike the sale of drugs or weapons, human beings can be sold again and again for the financial or material benefit of the traffickers, which makes this crime extremely lucrative”, explains the site.

For his article in ProPublica, Podkul spoke with 30 victims, in Canada and other countries, who had all lost money to such scams.

« The global nature of this is truly unprecedented, » he said. « I have spoken to several people in Canada who have been scammed as well as in the US, Singapore, France and other countries. So this is truly a global pandemic of scams.

The Government of Canada website explains that human trafficking does not have to involve someone crossing borders, it can happen within the country.

« Human trafficking is the recruitment, removal, or detention of victims to exploit them for profit, usually for sexual purposes or forced labor, » the website explains.

Statistics Canada describes human trafficking as a “modern form of slavery”. Canadian data shows that the number of incidents reported to the police has increased since 2009. Despite the covert and illegal nature of human trafficking, Statistics Canada explains that the vast majority (96%) of victims are women and girls and that one in four people are victims under the age of 18.

Anyone can be a victim of labor trafficking, but those most at risk are newcomers to Canada, migrant workers and people with precarious immigration status.

“Industries commonly linked to labor trafficking include, but are not limited to, construction, agriculture, manufacturing, hospitality, food processing, and restaurants.


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