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The Spreading Wave Of Pig-Butchering Scams In India

Key Takeaways

  • In India, there has been a noticeable surge in pig-butchering scam, specifically aimed at investors and propagated through counterfeit trading applications. 
  • Counterfeit trading applications are being distributed via the Google Play Store and App Store, alongside phishing sites, as part of this fraudulent scheme. 
  • Scammers were detected utilizing compromised developer accounts to disseminate these fraudulent applications. 
  • Fabricated articles have been observed across multiple news outlets, falsely asserting a strategic collaboration with BlackRock and the creation of a counterfeit trading platform in India, adding more legitimacy to their scam. 
  • To lend an air of credibility to their operations, scammers are adopting the identities of reputable Indian brokerage firms. 
  • The pig-butchering scam extends beyond India, targeting countries like Taiwan and Korea, indicating its widespread nature. 
  • Cybercriminals based in China are often behind these scams, as evidenced by language references in source codes and arrests made by Indian authorities. 

Overview

In the ever-evolving landscape of financial markets, the emergence of digital platforms has provided individuals worldwide with unprecedented access to trading opportunities. However, with this accessibility comes the looming threat of exploitation by cyber criminals seeking to deceive unsuspecting traders. Recently, a troubling trend has surfaced in India, where nefarious elements are exploiting investors’ trust through fraudulent piggybacking on the reputation of renowned brokering applications.  

These scammers orchestrate an elaborate scheme, deploying fake Android and iOS applications impersonating legitimate trading platforms. With promises of lucrative returns, they lure victims into investing their hard-earned money, only to abscond with their funds, leaving devastation in their wake.  

The pig-butchering scam originated in China in 2020 and later spread to several other Asian countries, and has become widely recognized. Scammers have utilized dating apps and social media platforms to identify their victims and establish romantic or friendly connections with potential victims, gradually earning their trust before convincing them to invest in fraudulent cryptocurrency and trading schemes. According to the most recent Bloomberg report, the pig-butchering scam has resulted in the global theft of over $75 million between 2020 and 2024.