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Project host Rachel Corbett reveals how she was targeted by a ‘pig cutting’ scam that preyed on ‘lonely’ Australians – here’s how to make sure you don’t get scammed

A host on The Project has revealed she was the target of a ‘pig butchering’ scam.

The sophisticated scam involves criminals approaching people, often elderly or lonely, with a «wrong number» introductory message before befriending them over months and convincing them to invest their life savings in a bogus scheme.

Its name is derived from the concept of fattening a pig before slaughter.

After a hoax news segment aired on The Project on Sunday night, host Rachel Corbett revealed she had received a version of the hoax over the phone.

“It was such a strange situation that someone called and asked for a name that wasn’t mine. I said ‘no,’ and then instead of doing the normal thing, they just hung up and went, ‘sorry,’ they said, ‘Oh, I guess I misunderstood,’ and they started putting me on the phone,» Corbett said. her co-hosts.

«Pig-slaughtering» involves criminals approaching people, often elderly or lonely, with a «wrong number» lead message before building up a friendship over months and convincing them to invest their life savings in a bogus scheme (picture).

The TV star said she was caught off guard by the phone call and «felt weird and bad and weird».

Australian victims of «pig cutting», also known as «romance baiting», lost up to $4,500 every hour in 2022.

Australian Federal Police are warning lonely hearts to beware of organized criminals this Valentine’s Day.

She first published a book about the crime of slaughtering pigs seized in the raid to inform the public of the tactics used.

Acting Deputy Cybercrime Commissioner Chris Goldsmid The Pig Slaughter Manual had four key steps – packing, breeding, killing/investment fraud and cashing out.

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The «wrapping» phase involves the scammer taking on the persona of a good-looking, successful business owner or investor before actually sending a seemingly random «hello» text to someone else.

Scammers often use what appears to be a genuine-sounding «bad number» before trying to befriend the victim months later to convince them to invest their life savings in a bogus scheme.

Pig slaughter in Australia and how to avoid it

Australians lost more than $322 million to investment fraud last year

Dating and romance scams accounted for $35 million in losses

Here are tips to avoid falling victim to this vicious scam:

– Do not invest in foreign exchange, crypto-currency or speculative investments with people you have only ever met online

– Be especially careful with cryptocurrencies, which have always been associated with fraud and criminal activity

– If you are unsure, get a second opinion from a professional, in person

– Talk to friends and family to get an outside perspective. Confiding in someone can help prevent or minimize losses

– If something doesn’t sound normal, it could be a scam. For example, you will be asked to pay via cryptocurrency or gift cards

– When it comes to relationships, understand that you don’t really know anyone until you meet them physically

Offenders are encouraged to state that they are 28-35 years old to show that they understand pop culture and are educated or have a well-paying job.

Next comes the «nurturing» phase, where the fraudster slowly grooms the individual over a period of weeks, months, or even years.

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They often text their victims every morning and reach out to them every night before professing their love for them and using animal names for the victims such as «baby» or «wife».

The scammers then brag about their supposed wealthy lifestyle and encourage victims to think they can achieve the same thing if they invest through certain schemes, often involving cryptocurrencies.

Victims think they are trading on legitimate platforms, but the money is actually siphoned off to an account owned by criminals who have created fake platforms that look just like well-known sites.

Finally, the scammer gets to the «cash out» stage where they convince the victim to make one final investment with the false promise that it will allow them to withdraw their funds.

There are different guides that are tailored to age, gender, sexual preference and geography.

Acting Deputy Commissioner Goldsmid said traditional romance scams were often initiated on dating apps, but the pig massacre often started with individuals texting each other on messaging apps.

«Slaughtering pigs does not target individuals with the false hope of a relationship, but instead initiates a conversation seeking friendship,» Deputy Commissioner Goldsmid said.

«Fraudsters usually say that random messages are caused by ‘fate’ or ‘God’s will.’

“Over the course of months or years, the scammer will flaunt their lavish lifestyle and leave a trail of comments about their wealth, such as bragging about the value of their cryptocurrency wallets.

“Once victims ask how they make money, they are redirected to a complete replica of the investment page that shows the growth of the investment.

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“When the victim sends money to invest, the victim is provided with weekly, monthly or yearly investment statements that show the constant growth of their investments. The victim often provides even more money to invest.

«When the victim wants to cash out, or the scammer believes there is no more money to lure the victim, the offender will try again to get the money by saying, «There are taxes to be paid, but I know a great accountant,» or ‘everyone we meet at a luxury resort for our AGM, our travel agency can book you, just provide them with cash for flights and accommodation’.

«However, before it gets to that point, a lot of hard work is needed to look after the victim – and those are the signs we want the community to be aware of.»

He said victims of these sophisticated scams should not be shamed and urged them to come forward.

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