trafficking and cyber slavery

Pig butchering scams trafficking and cyber slavery

Victims are pigs. Slaves are dogs. 

This is how a former boss of the criminal syndicate described their victims and trafficked slaves in the BBC Pig Butchering documentary.  

The narrative of duped victims and online predators is as old as the internet, however, most people are still unaware of the scale of human trafficking and suffering associated with pig butchering scams. This industry is thriving due to the thousands of young men and women who are trafficked, imprisoned, tortured, and forced to scam people worldwide. 

However, the news is reported more stories about cyber slavery in the last year. Stories about how people are forced to work, threats of rape, and extreme violence is done to victims inside scam compounds in Cambodia. Footage in a recent BBC documentary showed young men being imprisoned, beaten, and tased at the hands of their captors. These videos give us a shocking insight into the horrors of the dark world run by transnational criminal networks that smuggle people from China, through Vietnam, and into Cambodia and Myanmar.

Trafficked Victims Being Forced to Steal Billions 

Thousands of imprisoned and abused workers are forced to scam people worldwide from inside closed compounds. If they can’t scam anyone or don’t make enough money, they are beaten and tortured. 

It starts with a fake job advertisement, promising a comfortable salary and good working conditions in Cambodia, Laos, or Myanmar. When young men and women cross the border to start their new jobs, they become human trafficking victims, and are kidnapped, imprisoned, and forced to work on romance scams, crypto fraud, and money laundering. They have to work more than 18 hours a day, and when they make a mistake they are beaten like dogs, and even electrocuted with tasers. 

One of the escaped victims in the BBC documentary said that breaking rules meant you would be beaten enough so you wouldn’t be able to come out of bed for a couple of weeks, or they would break your leg or arm. 

The human trafficking victims are imprisoned in compounds, often associated with casino compounds. The scams are hidden in the compound, and the owners even pay off officials and police to protect the criminal network. 

The Canadian Centre to End Human Trafficking website describes human trafficking as a “low risk/high reward activity” because the crimes are often difficult to track down. And even if victims are tracked down, it is very difficult to get support from the local, often corrupt, police. 

How Pig Butchering Scams Work

  1. Find the pig.
  2. Fatten the pig.
  3. Butcher the pig.

Pig butchering is a brutal and elaborate form of organized crime that involves criminal syndicates, human trafficking and cyber-slavery, and victims around the world. 

Similar to how farmers fatten pigs before slaughter, these scammers try to ‘fatten’ their paycheque by gaining and exploiting their victims’ trust. 

Find the pig.

These types of scammers are everywhere: on every social media platform, on every dating app, and on every communication platform. Because these scammers are often cyber-slaves, they are forced to work more than 12 hours. So they are online all the time to talk to people to decide if they are a good prey. 

Fatten the pig.

The scammers often reach out with a seemingly innocent text, like “Hi, I’d like to get my dog groomed. Are you available tomorrow?” The victim will say that they have the wrong number, after which the scammer apologizes and continues chatting. 

Over time, they build a relationship to gain the victim’s trust. They exploit people’s feelings, like motherly love and loneliness. They create a dream of living together and being happy forever after.

Butcher the pig.

“Get the victims to invest as much as possible, and drain every single penny they have.” – Gang boss, BBC documentary.

After establishing a relationship and earning the victim’s trust, the scammer encourages the victim to start cryptocurrency trading. They will tell the victim that they have insider information, experience investing in crypto, or family connections that will help them make a lot of money. 

Then they encourage the victim to make an account on a trading platform or download an app. A criminal network is in control of this trading platform. Then, when victims join this platform, the platform will make it seem like they are earning profits to encourage victims to invest more. The scammer will keep encouraging the victim to invest, which is also referred to as “fattening the pig”. 

When victims try to withdraw their money, the system will say there is a problem with the account or inform the account holder that there is a tax associated with withdrawing money or that they need to pay fees to get their money out of the account.

At this point, many victims realize they are being scammed but don’t want to face reality. Because if they confront the scammer, they’d lose the money for good, and the relationship. By the time enough victims realize what is going on, the scammer and the platform disappear.