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China FINALLY launches probe into cruel ‘pig butchering’ con which sees fraudsters poach victims on dating apps and convince them to invest in bogus crypto schemes – after Americans lost BILLIONS to scam

China has launched a crackdown on cruel ‘pig butchering’ scam networks – which ensnare thousands of victims every year across the globe – including Americans. 

‘Pig butchering’ scams involve victims being effectively ‘fattened up’ with a fake romantic relationship before being ‘butchered’ by fraudulent investment advice. It works by scammers posing as love interests on dating sites then convincing their matches to invest in bogus cryptocurrency schemes. 

These cyber scam networks are run by powerful Chinese syndicates in Southeast Asia – with many operations based just over the border in Myanmar. 

Many of the scammers are themselves victims of human trafficking: young people lured in by fake high-paying job adverts and held captive in prisonlike complexes.

In August, China launched a ‘special joint operation’ with Thailand, Laos and Myanmar to tackle cyber scams in the region – which it says has already caught thousands of suspects.

Myanmar police handed over five telecom and internet fraud suspects to Chinese police at

Myanmar police handed over five telecom and internet fraud suspects to Chinese police at Yangon International Airport, Myanmar, in August. Photo released by Xinhau News Agency

Myanmar’s border regions are a hotspot for all kinds of cyber scams – and have historically also been a magnet for the drug trade.

While the crackdown is not only focused on ‘pig-butchering’ fraudsters, the syndicates have become known for these growing scams in recent years. 

On October 10, China’s Ministry of Public Security announced that its ‘Summer Operation’ had brought back 2,317 scam suspects from northern Myanmar to China, according to AP.

At the end of last month, the ministry said that as of the end of September it had caught 387 ‘important leaders and backbone’ criminals in cyber scam networks.

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Overall, China has rounded up and repatriated almost 5,000 Chinese nationals suspected of illicit activity.

‘From the vantage point of the Chinese government, it’s a source of extreme embarrassment that you have so many of these Chinese criminals operating all across Southeast Asia,’ Jason Tower, an expert on transnational crime with the United States Institute of Peace told AP.

Despite the crackdown, he warned that these groups are not going to go away easily – and will look for fragile places in the world which they are able to exploit. 

The United Nations human-rights office says more than 120,000 people may be forced to work as scammers in Myanmar, with another 100,000 in Cambodia.

‘China is starting to signal that enough is enough,’ Inshik Sim, a Bangkok-based lead analyst for the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime’s regional operations told The Wall Street Journal. 

A Malaysian trafficking victim told the outlet how he was trained to spend weeks ‘fattening’ his victims and gaining their trust before ‘butchering’ them.

He said he had responded to an advert for a customer-service role in Cambodia, but had been forced to work as a scammer under threats of violence. 

He was trained by a handler who supplied him with a smartphone preloaded with fake social media accounts, a ‘victim list’ of potential targets and various scripts to follow to build trust, he said.

Michael Holloway, a 62-year-old real estate agent from New Jersey, told how he was conned out of half a million dollars by online fraudsters who managed to gain his trust. 

Michael was so distraught by falling victim to the cruel scam that he hit ‘rock bottom’, was ‘ready to end his life’ – and ultimately ended up being rushed to hospital by his concerned daughter.

The scammers who targeted Michael spent months building his trust before they brought up an ‘investment opportunity’. He was convinced to transfer his life savings into bogus cryptocurrency platforms. 

‘Pig butchering’ cons tend to be long-winded and see the scammer engage in a months-long courtship. 

Crooks will often allow victims to withdraw money easily from the investment app in the beginning – but once they have invested heavily they will lose this option. 

Rebecca Holloway, 42, missed the warning signs when she was swindled out of more than $100,000 by fraudsters posing as a French entrepreneur called ‘Fred.’

Rebecca told ‘Single women approaching middle-age are so vulnerable. 

‘We have money but we might not have met the right guy yet. And suddenly this good-looking man starts talking to you and you’re excited.  

‘Looking back, the signs are so obvious. But at the time you want to believe it’s real.’

Tech executive Shreya Datta, 37, and single mum Kate, 41, both revealed they lost $450,000 and $80,0000 respectively in cons eerily similar to what happened to Rebecca.

Tech executive Shreya Datta believed she was talking to a French wine trader – who ended up conning her out $450,000. 

Shreya – who earns a six-figure salary in a global tech firm – told the Philadelphia Inquirer she had felt as though she had ‘a hole in my soul for not having a man in my life’ – hence why she was tricked.

Rebecca Holloway, pictured, revealed how she lost her entire 401(K) to a scammer she met on Tinder after he convinced her to invest in bogus cryptocurrency schemes

Rebecca Holloway, pictured, revealed how she lost her entire 401(K) to a scammer she met on Tinder after he convinced her to invest in bogus cryptocurrency schemes

‘I was in a trance,’ she said, adding ‘it’s like my psychology was hacked.’

Kate, from Vancouver, Washington, also believed she had met a French wine trader online – though he said he lived in Seattle. 

He claimed to be called ‘Andy’ and over time, the duo struck up a relationship when he convinced her to invest $80,000.

‘I was the perfect sucker in a way because I knew nothing about cryptocurrencies,’ Kate, who used a pseudonym for the piece, said.

The US Treasury Department in September warned Americans about these scams – which it estimated have robbed victims in the US of billions of dollars. 

Investment fraud is now the fastest growing scam in the US. 

Americans lost a record $2.57 billion to cryptocurrency investment fraud last year alone, according to the FBI, which is almost three times the amount stolen in 2021.

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