Events , Fraud Management & Cybercrime , Fraud Risk Management

Combating Pig-Butchering Scams With a Unified Approach

Deputy DA Erin West Discusses the Anatomy of the Scam and Mitigation Strategies
Erin West, deputy district attorney, Santa Clara County, Office of the District Attorney

Pig-butchering scams - a combination of romance and investment scams - have left victims financially bankrupt. According to Erin West, a deputy district attorney in Santa Clara County, California, these scams are multifaceted. Victims are lured through fake texts, social media messages or dating apps by someone pretending to be romantically interested in them. The scammers then convince the victims to make investments into crypto exchanges, draining their finances completely.

See Also: Why the Future of Security Is Identity

"Educate, seize, disrupt. We need to educate potential victims about this, we need to educate law enforcement about how to handle it, we need to seize what we can back for victims, and we need to disrupt these organizations," West said. Transnational crime syndicates are excelling at pig butchering right now. "What happens when they turn to malware? What happens when they turn to ransomware? What happens when they start shutting off our transportation and our water and our utilities?"

In this video interview with Information Security Media Group at RSA Conference 2024, West also discussed:

  • How tech platforms can help in preventing pig-butchering scams;
  • How Operation Shamrock is helping build public-private partnerships;
  • The importance of collaboration between security leaders and law enforcement to prevent such scams.

West is a national leader in the investigation and prosecution of cryptocurrency crimes. She has spent nearly 25 years as a deputy district attorney in Santa Clara County, California, and has expertise in high-tech crimes, hate crimes and search and seizure. West is the prosecutor to the REACT task force, a multi-agency high-tech team comprising law enforcement from local and federal agencies, where her mission is to disrupt the wave of romance/investment scams known as pig butchering.

About the Author

Anna Delaney

Anna Delaney

Director, ISMG Productions

An experienced broadcast journalist, Delaney conducts interviews with senior cybersecurity leaders around the world. Previously, she was editor-in-chief of the website for The European Information Security Summit, or TEISS. Earlier, she worked at Levant TV and Resonance FM and served as a researcher at the BBC and ITV in their documentary and factual TV departments.

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