Everything About Pig-Butchering Scams, a Scam Variant That’s in S’pore Now


A pig is fattened up before getting slaughtered.

These investment scams follow the same idea: they give you lucrative returns, make you invest even more, and then run away with your money.

Here’s everything about pig-butchering scams that have been making their way through Singapore.

Started in China But Is Spreading Globally Now

“Pig-butchering”, or the Chinese term “sha zhu pan”, was coined by the scammers themselves to describe their actions. Fatten the pig up before killing it, build a relationship with your victim before scamming them.

Pig-butchering scams started in China in 2016, where scammers groomed victims to place bets on fake gambling sites.

The Chinese government put their foot down on illegal betting in 2018, which led scammers to shift targets to Chinese speakers in Southeast Asia. The victim pool then expanded to include Europe and the United States.

The scams have evolved to keep up with trends and took advantage of the growing popularity of cryptocurrency investments.

Pig-Butchering Scams Has Appeared in Singapore Too

In Singapore, investment scams have stolen more money than any other scams in the past three years.

Yes, even more than the OCBC scams. 

There was a total of $190.9 million stolen via investment scams in 2021, which is more than five times of $36.9 million lost in 2019.

There have been reports of pig-butchering scams in Singapore as well, where scammers spend months building a relationship with victims. Once the victims have a certain level of trust in them, they urge victims to invest in fake investment schemes.

In many cases, victims earned a profit initially, which made them believe that this is a legit investment. Once larger amounts of money were deposited into the accounts, the scammers simply disappeared with the money.

The Singapore Police Force said that victims here usually ended up transferring money to banks in China. To combat such scams, the authorities use technology to identify and warn potential victims, by sending targeted SMS advisories.

The police will also work with foreign law enforcement agencies on joint operations to take down crime syndicates.

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Emptied Savings Account and Ended Up In Debt

The Global Anti-Scam Organisation, which is a volunteer-driven advocacy group that has Singaporean members, said that most victims ended up emptying their savings and ended up in debt.

When surveying over 400 victims across the globe, each victim has lost an average of US$134,940, or S$182,000. About 70% were women aged 25 and 40 years old.


If you were thinking that you’re smart enough to never fall for such scams: think again. Many victims were highly educated, with almost 90% holding a bachelor’s degree or higher.

To protect yourself from such scams, be cautious when making friends online, and do not invest in schemes before checking for their legitimacy.

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