Please stop calling all crypto scams “Pig Butchering!” »


Lately, there has been a media frenzy within the fraud community to label every crypto-investment scam “pig slaughter.” I hope you will join me in rescinding this mandate after reading this article.

The term “pig butchery” comes from the Chinese term 杀猪盘 (Shā zhū pán or “butchery plate”). Although the term has been used in Chinese media since at least 2018, it actually became famous because of the courageous actions of one human being. victim of trafficking who got caught in the game.

Hao Zhendong (郝振东) recently divorced and lost custody of his daughter because he faced personal financial difficulties and could not care for her. During his time of despair, he received a message from his uncle. The uncle told him that he should come to Myanmar and join him at his work. He said Zhendong could easily earn between 60,000 and 70,000 yuan a month.

In late 2020, Zhendong traveled to China’s Yunnan province where he paid smugglers to help him cross into Myanmar. After traveling with them for several days, he was forced to walk through the jungle and up a steep hill for six hours. When he arrives, he discovers that he is in a labor camp. In his own words, he said he realized that he had “fallen into a den of wolves”. The labor camp was an industrial park where various call center workers carried out scams.

The northern region of Myanmar has four special zones, including “Wa State”. So many Chinese have moved to Wa State that Chinese is actually one of the official languages. The corrupt local government, lacking natural resources, has opened its arms wide and welcomed criminal enterprises, which they call “foreign investors,” to set up call centers. According to local law in Wa State, Myanmar, telecommunications fraud is not a crime. So many scammers have set up shop in the area that the government has even “rented” entire schools to use as fraudulent call centers. The Myanmar government estimates that 140,000 Chinese live in the region and most of them engage in telecommunications fraud. As with other forms of human trafficking, men are only allowed to leave if they repay the “investment” their handlers have made in them. Leave charges range from 50,000 to 120,000 depending on how long you have worked. If you fail to pay the fee after three months, you have an additional six months to stay, with armed guards preventing you from leaving the labor camp. Many return to China, with enough money to buy a house, a car and a wife, that others are tempted to follow in their footsteps.

Zhendong says he has often considered trying to flee, but northern Myanmar is an “extrajudicial land” and Chinese people there are regularly kidnapped and killed with no consequences for their attackers. A man who tried to flee was forcibly returned to the camp, with the fingers of one hand amputated.

In the labor camp where Zhendong was enslaved, there were three buildings. Two were dormitories and the call center was located in the “Science and Technology Building”. Each team was assigned to different topics. Some have worked on lottery scams, others on foreign exchange scams, nude chat/extortion scams, pornography scams, etc. But Zhengdong was assigned to a “pig killing gang.”

He was provided with a manual describing his role. His job was to target victims on the Internet and use their emotions to convince them to invest their entire net worth in illegal online gambling. His work as a “recruiter” for these scams was described in the manual as “dog pusher” (“狗推” Gǒu tuī.)

He received three cell phones and three books of “love story” scripts. Her job was to find rich single or divorced women on social media, add at least two every day, and form a romantic relationship with them online. Once they were properly “hooked” on his romance, he was supposed to hand them over to his team leader, who had 30 to 40 “dog pushers” under his command to “kill” them. If the victim provided more than a million dollars, there was a party and the dog pusher was rewarded extravagantly.

As he learned the role, “the company” became very excited about a successful scam carried out by one of the other dog pushers. He convinced a young woman from Shanghai to invest all her savings – 2.92 million yuan – and when she realized she had been scammed, she committed suicide by jumping off the roof. Another woman was convinced to sell her car and house to invest more. While the company thought these were great examples to follow, Zhendong’s spirit died. He realized he had to try to do something about it.

On one point, his uncle had told the truth. The company used cash bonuses as incentives, and every month it put millions of yuan on the table and paid bonuses. Some have won the equivalent of hundreds of thousands of dollars in bonuses. But Zhendong couldn’t do it.

He began sneaking onto the roof, using a stolen phone, and sending messages to his victims, telling them he was being enslaved and forced to scam them. Because he failed to make money, his controllers were very angry with him and his life was in danger.

One potential victim, Yang Yu, changed things for him. When he called Yang Yu to warn him, Yang Yu asked, “How can I help you go home?” In order to protect Zhendong, Yang Yu gave him money that he could give to his controllers as proof that he was working. Then, Zhendong stole a list of victims from the company and urged Yang Yu to take it to the police.

In February 2021, she brought a list of 18 victims to the Anti-Fraud Center of the Nanchang Public Security Bureau.

Tao Jiangjiang, the head of a wire fraud task force who helped Zhendong return home

Tao Jiangjiang began communicating with Zhendong and a rescue mission was organized by Yunnan police, working with an informant in Myanmar. Although Tao Jiangjiang advised him not to take any risks, Zhendong felt that he could not leave empty-handed. He worked to observe the password his Pig Killer boss used to log into the company’s server, and late at night he logged in and wrote down as many names as he could. When he returned to China, he had with him a list of 105 additional victims who were contacted and assisted by Chinese police.

There was a dramatic event at the China-Myanmar port of Nansha when Zhendong recognized a man from the company who was chasing him. When armed Chinese police arrested Zhendong, the company man backed out. After that, Zhendong gave numerous media interviews, some alongside wire fraud police, which helped popularize the term “pig butchery.”

While there are indeed “dog pushers” and “pig killers” targeting the Chinese expat community, unless your scammer is speaking Chinese from a call center in Myanmar, you may be at risk. be a victim of fraud, but you are not a victim of “Pig Butchering”.

The main sources for this story were the Chinese versions of the Zhendong misadventure, particularly these two:

荐见 |反水、救赎、卧底:逃出缅北“杀猪盘”

(Rebellion, redemption and undercover work: escape from the “pig killing” center in northern Myanmar – an article by “荐见美学”)



(“After accidentally joining the pig-killing gang, he stole a list of 105 victims” in the TenCent section, “Talking to Foreigners” – if you speak Chinese, there’s a great interview here!)

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