'Pig-Butchering' Scam Apps Sneak Into Apple's App Store and Google Play
Wednesday February 1, 2023. 10:21 PM , from Slashdot
In the past year, a new term has arisen to describe an online scam raking in millions, if not billions, of dollars per year. It's called 'pig butchering,' and now even Apple is getting fooled into participating. From a report: Researchers from security firm Sophos said on Wednesday that they uncovered two apps available in the App Store that were part of an elaborate network of tools used to dupe people into putting large sums of money into fake investment scams. At least one of those apps also made it into Google Play, but that market is notorious for the number of malicious apps that bypass Google vetting. Sophos said this was the first time it had seen such apps in the App Store and that a previous app identified in these types of scams was a legitimate one that was later exploited by bad actors.
Pig butchering relies on a rich combination of apps, websites, web hosts, and humans -- in some cases human trafficking victims -- to build trust with a mark over a period of weeks or months, often under the guise of a romantic interest, financial adviser, or successful investor. Eventually, the online discussion will turn to investments, usually involving cryptocurrency, that the scammer claims to have earned huge sums of money from. The scammer then invites the victim to participate. Once a mark deposits money, the scammers will initially allow them to make withdrawals. The scammers eventually lock the account and claim they need a deposit of as much as 20 percent of their balance to get it back. Even when the deposit is paid, the money isn't returned, and the scammers invent new reasons the victim should send more money. The pig-butchering term derives from a farmer fattening up a hog months before it's butchered.
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