This 'Pig Butchering' Scam Has Victims on Both Sides

Modern-day slaves are forced to try to scam unsuspecting Americans
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 27, 2023 2:23 PM CST
This 'Pig Butchering' Scam Has Victims on Both Sides
"Why doesn’t anyone rescue [the trafficking victims]? Because it’s the largest organized crime unit in the world."   (Getty Images / Tero Vesalainen)

It has a memorable name—and a devastating impact. CNN takes a deep dive into the rise of a "pig butchering" scam involving cryptocurrency, modern-day slaves, and duped Americans. It spent six months speaking with victims, investigators, and, yes, some scammers to pull the veil back on a scheme that raked in $2.9 billion in reported losses between January and November 2023, a sharp increase from the $907 million registered in 2020. It places the heart of the scam at Myanmar's border with Thailand. Tens of thousands of trafficking victims are thought to be held in compounds there, people wooed to Thailand by a fake job offer and then seized by Chinese organized crime syndicates and forced to scam victims across the world.

CNN profiles one such trafficking victim, a 33-year-old Indian chemical engineer named Rakesh who was unemployed and traveled to Thailand after being offered a job there. Instead, he says he was taken to the Gate 25 compound in Myanmar and forced to pretend to be "Klara Semonov," a Utah-based investor. For 16 hours a day, he would chat with Americans, Brits, Brazilians, and Mexicans online, establish a relationship, and convince them to invest in cryptocurrency on a fake platform. "Victims are shown startling returns and coaxed to keep pumping in more money—like a pig slowly fattened for the slaughter—until one day their scammer disappears along with the money." (Read the full story for more, including details on how Rakesh got out after 11 months.)

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