Victims in Brooklyn cheated out of millions through crypto scam known as pig butchering

ByAaron Katersky WABC logo
Thursday, April 4, 2024
Victims cheated out of millions through scam known as pig butchering
Darla Miles has more on the victims cheated out of millions in a scam known as pig butchering.

NEW YORK (WABC) -- The Brooklyn district attorney's office on Thursday seized nearly two dozen web domains associated with a scheme known as pig butchering, striking an online conversation with unsuspecting victims, gaining their trust and then steering them into bogus cryptocurrency investments.

This is a lucrative and growing scam with victims in multiple states. The masterminds rely on human trafficking victims to help facilitate the scams at compounds in Southeast Asia, prosecutors said.

Brooklyn-based victims have been scammed out of $5 million after they were convinced to invest in cryptocurrency by someone they met through a random text message, a dating site or through a WhatsApp group. The investments show tremendous returns but when the victims try to withdraw substantial sums they are blocked from their account and lose their entire investment, prosecutors said.

The Brooklyn district attorney's office seized and 20 other active associated domains. Three virtual servers hosting those sites have also been seized.

"Pig butchering is a growing type of scam that defrauds residents of Brooklyn and the entire country out of billions of dollars every year. My office's strategy is to disrupt these schemes by seizing and shutting down their online infrastructure, and to educate the public about ways to avoid becoming a victim. Awareness and education are the first and best lines of defense against these prolific scams. Investment returns that seem too good to be true are almost always just that - fake," Brooklyn district attorney Eric Gonzalez said.

The victims included a 51-year-old woman who lost $23,000 after she was added on online chat groups discussing crypto investments. She downloaded an app from, made eight deposits and thought her investment grew to nearly $400,000. When she tried to withdraw her initial investment she was told she had to pay taxes and when she complained she was blocked from the chat group and her money disappeared.

Prosecutors said her investment moved through multiple crypto addresses before it was deposited into an account at a foreign exchange and cashed out by someone possibly in China.

Investigators found victims in California, Pennsylvania and Illinois. The Chinese and Russian communities in Brooklyn appear to have been particularly targeted.

Check whether a cryptocurrency exchange is licensed to operate in New York State by going to or calling the New York State Department of Financial Services hotline at 800-342-3736.

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