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Business News/ Markets / Stock Markets/  ‘Pig Butchering Scams’: Zerodha's Nithin Kamath exposes new phishing websites mimicking Indian brokers | Explained
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‘Pig Butchering Scams’: Zerodha's Nithin Kamath exposes new phishing websites mimicking Indian brokers | Explained

Fraudsters are creating hundreds of websites and trading apps that look similar to the websites of Indian brokers, said Kamath explaining the latest phishing attack.

The scale of pig butchering scams in India runs into tens of thousands of crores, said Nithin KamathPremium
The scale of pig butchering scams in India runs into tens of thousands of crores, said Nithin Kamath

Amid rising cases of China's loan app scam, Nithin Kamath, co-founder and chief executive officer (CEO) of online brokerage firm Zerodha has flagged a new wave of fraudulent phishing websites that mimick Indian brokerages to dupe investors.

Kamath took to social media platform ‘X’ on February 17 and said, ‘’After the Chinese loan apps scam, the latest scam from actors in China and other Asian countries is phishing websites. Fraudsters are creating hundreds of websites and trading apps that look similar to the websites of Indian brokers.''

‘’Unwitting users who click on the app download links, etc., will be prompted to download the fake app. The goal is to get people to transfer money by taking advantage of their familiarity with these apps,'' added Kamath.

According to reports, pig butchering scams have a global reach, with perpetrators often becoming victims themselves. Many are lured into accepting international job offers only to find themselves coerced into scamming others. The cycle perpetuates as victims-turned-scammers continue the deceit, often under duress.


How do pig butchering scams work?

In traditional pig-butchering scams, which originated in China and blew up during the pandemic, criminals pretend to cultivate a romantic or personal relationship with victims through dating apps or social media. After gaining their trust over weeks of virtual conversations, the fraudsters manipulate them into investing in phony cryptocurrency investments.

Once the criminals squeeze as much digital currency as they can out of the victims, they take off with the funds, sometimes robbing innocent people of their life savings, according to a Bloomberg report.

Cybercriminals are selling the latest evolution of pig-butchering schemes in ready-to-go kits on the dark web, lowering the barrier to entry for scammers around the world, according to a report published Friday by cybersecurity firm Sophos. 'Pig butchering’ refers to the process of luring victims with flattery and companionship before leading them to a potential financial attack.

When a victim finally breaks contact, the criminals persistently ping them on other platforms, like Facebook, WhatsApp, and Telegram. Some do so by utilizing generative artificial intelligence (AI) to create more fluent and believable English messages, according to the report.

Taking to X in November last year, Nithin Kamath wrote, “The scale of pig butchering scams in India runs into tens of thousands of crores. It is scary how many people fall for fake job offer scams, scammy high-return investment schemes, and crypto investments, etc."

As the name implies, a pig butchering scam involves fattening the victim before butchering. Scammers gain the trust of users by using fake profiles. They use the pretense of love and friendship to gain the trust of users and then induce them to send money for jobs and high-return investments and steal the money. These scams are global, and their scope is staggering, as per Kamath.

‘’What makes these scams even more cruel is that the person scamming could also be a victim of another type of scam. Many fall into the trap of international job offers from scammy companies. Once abroad, they are held captive and forced to scam Indians by building trust using social media platforms, typically using fake profiles of the opposite sex,'' wrote the Zerodha CEO.

Also Read: From deepfake to phishing: Top 5 fraud trends anticipated in the financial sector in 2024 and strategies for mitigation

According to Kamath, the latest phishing attack another one of the hundreds of international scams that have exploded in the last few years. The Zerodha CEO shared a few tips earlier to protect oneself from scams, which also apply in this case.

How to protect oneself from pig butchering scams?

Suggesting some tips to protect from pig butchering scams, Kamath said:

1) Never reply to unknown messages on WhatsApp, social media platforms, and dating apps.

2) If someone asks you to download some new apps or open links, that’s a red flag.

3) These scams rely on exploiting your emotions like hopes, fears, dreams, and greed. Never react in a hurry.

4) Don’t panic. Most people fall for these scams because they react in a hurry.

5) When in doubt, go to the nearest police station or talk to a lawyer.

6) If someone promises something like a job or high returns or asks you for money, it’s a red flag.

7) Never share personally identifiable information like your Aadhaar, passport, or your financial information like bank details, investment details, etc.

8) If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

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Published: 17 Feb 2024, 08:33 PM IST
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