The FBI just released a terrifying PSA warning of fake job listings in Asia which they claim are traps to lure unsuspecting workers into slavery where they are forced to run ‘pig butchering’ crypto scams.

The public service announcement claims that this nightmare begins with a job listing for entry-level roles such as tech support, call center customer service, and beauty salon technicians.

The PSA continues that the listings can seem too good to be true and extremely competitive with high pay and great perks or benefits. This, of course, is because they are entirely fake and merely meant to lure you into human labor trafficking.

Once the victim shows up for the listing they are often kidnapped with the threat (or use) of violence or passport confiscation. The FBI claims that they are taken to secure compounds where they are forced to run various cryptocurrency scams like pig butchering.

What Are These Crypto Pig Butchering Scams That The FBI Mentions?

Pig butchering is essentially catfishing, where scammers create fake personas and social media (or dating app) profiles to gain the trust of unsuspecting victims. When the victim trusts the fake persona, the scammer asks for money under a false pretense.

Some promise that they need the money to travel to see the victim while others propose a fake investment scheme. Cryptocurrency schemes are becoming more and more prevalent as many people don’t understand the market well enough to spot scams.

Image courtesy of Sift

The FBI claims that the traffickers use common manipulative tactics to keep their enslaved workers controlled and working. These include assigning debts to victims for the cost of room and board (or travel), followed by threats of contacting law enforcement when the victims can’t pay them.

The agency goes on to give tips for travelers and foreign workers to avoid these trafficking schemes. It suggests researching any foreign job opportunities carefully and urges them to look out for vague language. The FBI wants them to be wary of unusually high salaries (or other perks or benefits) too.

It also suggests communicating heavily with family and friends about the details of the job and location before and during the relocation. Scheduling regular check-ins with family members (before the move) is another tip given.

Finally, the FBI wants you to sign up for the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) at for various safety and security tips and advisories. If you sign up for STEP, the US Embassy or Consulate near you can call you with information during emergency situations.

Is the FBI Right to Worry You About Crypto Scheme Slavers?

The FBI has released a few spurious public service announcements in the past, including a recent warning about juice jacking. Juice jacking is when an attacker compromises a public USB charging port to pull data off of phones that are plugged into it.

Juice jacking is inordinately difficult to pull off with modern smartphones, so much so that it doesn’t make sense for attackers to compromise a random public USB port. The FBI still released a PSA advising travelers not to use public USB charging ports, despite there being no evidence of juice jacking ever happening in the wild.

Juice jacking is not much of a threat to the general public but human trafficking certainly can be. Unlike juice jacking, labor trafficking is unfortunately common. Predatory gangs (and sometimes ‘legitimate’ companies) use the tactic for free or nearly free labor.

Perhaps the most well-known cases of this kind of trafficking happen (allegedly) in Dubai’s construction industry. Various documentaries and papers on Dubai’s indentured servitude problem have found that many thousands of foreign workers are trapped with passport confiscation and debts, forced to work for pitiful pay.

Dubai isn’t the only country (allegedly) plagued with these issues. Like the FBI mentioned in its announcement, many of these scams happen in Asia, where the prevalence of cryptocurrency is also growing quickly.

Cambodia has been under fire recently for letting Chinese trafficking gangs run rampant in the country. The country admits that ‘up to 100,000’ people may be involved in scam rings. However, the government denies that human trafficking is taking place on a large scale.

No matter how high or low the chances of being lured into these traps are, it’s always smart to be careful, especially when relocating abroad.

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