(See bottom for an update - cannabiccino)
People said it was greed that landed me where I am now, but it was the greed for love, not money.
I divorced in October 2020. It was a peaceful split with my then husband, whom I spent the last ten years together with. At the age of 33, I was lost and all alone in the house that we bought together.
How it went down
One fine day on March 25, 2021, I was bored and decided to try a dating app for a new chance of love. Like many others, I still believed I had another shot for love. I chanced upon this profile on OK Cupid that didn't quite match my expectations because the person in the profile was 28 years old, but I ended up adding him to WhatsApp.
Thus, we began our “journey”.
He claimed to be a Taiwanese entrepreneur who had a small investment company with his Taiwanese partner at Orchard Road, Singapore. Just like every other Pig Butchering Scam, he showered me with love, affection, and care. Every day, we texted each other in the morning and spoke on the phone at night before he went to bed. It was so convincing that I quickly fell head over heels for him - I really thought I was madly in love! He told me he could not meet me in person yet because he had an existing legal case that might get me into trouble, as the plaintiff was in the midst of searching for more evidence to support his case.
On the second month of us “dating”, he began to ask for compromising photos of me. I hesitated, but ultimately gave in. I had no idea he would later use these against me and that it would lead me into a complete mental breakdown.
The fraudulent investment website
Following this, he asked me to invest in his fake platform. I had initially declined a few times, but eventually gave in when he took his final chance at the scam (before likely moving on) by depositing USD $15,000 (fake figures “added” to the fraud platform to participate in the daily bonus). I was asked to deposit USD $15,000 so we could meet the USD $30,000 mark in order for us to have more cash together.
At this point, I saw that the funds had grown to a staggering USD $45,000 in the platform; however, I was told to hold off and not withdraw the funds yet. Two days later, he signed up for another event with Customer Service that required a recharge/deposit of SGD $300,000 due in three days; he assured me that he would help me raise the funds. He then informed me that he had already deposited S$300,000 to the platform. (The event required two people to bind the account in order to reap the rewards.)
The torturing phase
According to him, he misused $100,000 SGD from his company to help me tide though the difficult times (of struggling to find the funds for this investment event), but told me that I also needed to put in my own effort to raise the balance. Scrambling to find the funds, I couldn't sleep or eat throughout that entire phase. I remembered losing 2kg in a week because I was under too much stress trying to find a loan for that amount. I first borrowed money from a friend (at this point I had put in S$21,800 and got the S$40,000 from the friend), but this wasn't enough for the evil scammer. He turned around and called me a scammer for participating in the event and not pulling my own weight. He then threatened me that if I did not raise another S$2,000, he would send my compromising photos to my friends and family. The next day, he followed through with his threat, but I somehow ended up forgiving him because I stupidly thought it was my fault that he lost so much money. He also sent me a picture of his slit wrist as 'he had lost everything'. I felt so guilty that I raised another S$10,000 for him. At this point, I was already in debt for S$71,000, but this was still not enough for him. He then asked me to get a bank loan for the remaining S$8,000, which I refused to do; in the end, I managed to get a final S$3,000 for him. That was the last of my bank savings: I had completely emptied out my entire savings at this point.
When he called me, he was crying, sniffling, and speaking with a raspy voice, as if in distress. I still clearly remember how convincing it was to this day.
The final date of withdrawal
The scammer told me that since the funds were so large, I would need to get 10 different bank accounts to split up the funds. That night, I was told by customer service that I would have to pay USD $470 admin charge per account (I had 10), totaling USD $4,700 in order for me to withdraw the funds from the trading account. I then realized that I had been scammed, as it doesn’t make any sense at all for me to pay any upfront fees just to withdraw my own funds, when there was already money in the accounts that could be used for the fees themselves.
I filed a police report that very same day. Later, I was later told that I was scammed and that the same fraud website had already been reported by more than 20 other victims. I was horrified: I was now in debt of over S$80,000 and did not have a single cent to my name; I couldn’t even eat until the last day of the month when my paycheck would finally arrive. I remembered I had just eggs, milk and bread that month. To add further insult to injury, he also blocked me from every platform.
The most vile of human beings
Two months later, he unblocked me to text me again. These are the things he said:
I taught you a lesson to not trust anyone you meet online.
I taught you who your real friends are when you needed to get money for me.
You are such an idiot and you are dumb, that is why you got scammed.
Can you take more compromising photos for me so that I could sell them off to a porn site to earn more money?
I used your nude photos to exchange with my other colleagues' victims' nude photos, although sometimes I do it for a packet of cigarettes instead.
The "Pig Butchering Scam" was named as one the worst scams among all other telecommunications scams. Victims not only lose their money and reputation, but also their trust and faith in others; most of us became emotionally unstable and suicidal in its wake. Other victims have also tried to take their own lives and/or are still dealing with the aftermath of their suicide attempts.
I remembered crying every single day and night for over a month.
I remembered wanting to end my life because I had brought shame to me and others, and I let my family and friends down.
I was hospitalized for 3 days after overdosing on pills.
I had debtors coming after me every day asking to repay the loans.
I distanced myself from my friends from whom I borrowed money for the scam because I was disappointed with myself.
I can't afford to buy rent an apartment, and my income this year is supposedly too high to qualify for government subsidies.
I struggle for my next meal.
It’s been 2.5 months since the incident and I still haven't found the courage to face my friends in the same way as before. Today, I am heavily involved with anti-scam efforts; I try to reach out to victims and ensure that every single fake platform or fraudulent site provided to us can be posted as quickly as possible so others can use it as a reference. I was once a victim, and I know it’s not easy to walk out from this alone.
Before this, I had never heard of this “Pig Butchering Scam”. I had heard of romance scams that asked for money, but this one operated on a whole new level, a scam that was carefully planned to perfection.
For victims who haven't yet found the courage to come out, please reach out to us. You are not alone, and nobody here will judge you. Don’t be afraid to use your voice and come out so that we can save more victims -- and our country's GDP -- from falling into the scammers' hands. Hugs!
** I am the creator of Global Anti-Scam, founding it just two weeks after my incident, and would like to offer my gratitude to the following people who were with me throughout my darkest phase:
Baobei Alicia, Peng, C, Mango, Gigi, Tony Ney and Ophl
UPDATE, by cannabiccino: She is currently (January 2021) in the middle of selling her house to pay off the loans from friends and bank loans due. She will be homeless in 3 months’ time. For all the work she's done for us, we are making a personal fund-raiser for her to keep her going. We need her. https://www.gofundme.com/f/save-SL-from-becoming-homeless