DOJ Seizes $9M Worth of USDT Linked to a Scam
- The DOJ collaborated with Tether to facilitate the seizure.
- The US government reportedly holds up to $5 billion worth of crypto obtained from multiple seizures.
- The DOJ recently reached a settlement with crypto exchange Binance.
It has been a busy week for the US Department of Justice. First, the agency announced a settlement deal with the biggest crypto exchange, Binance, which would see Binance CEO Changpeng Zhao step down as CEO.
The DOJ has continued its enforcement action, seizing USDT worth around $9 million. The confiscated stablecoins were allegedly tied to criminal organizations that defrauded victims through a “pig butchering” romance scam.
The DOJ revealed that enforcement agents used special tactics known as “chain hopping” to discover the assets. As per the DOJ’s release, US Secret Service agents and analysts tracked down victim deposits that were laundered via several cryptocurrencies.
Pig butchering is a form of romance scam where victims are lured into parting with their assets. The scammers often develop a relationship with the victims and urge them to invest their crypto in a business portrayed as lucrative.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicole Argentieri explained that “these scammers prey on ordinary investors by creating websites that tell victims their investments are working to make them money.”
The truth is that these international criminal actors are simply stealing cryptocurrency and leaving victims with nothing. This seizure should also serve as a reminder to cybercriminals that, although the current landscape of the cryptocurrency ecosystem may seem like an ideal way to launder ill-gotten gains, law enforcement will continue to develop the expertise needed to follow the money and seize it back for victims.
US authorities are taking the lead in the race to tackle crypto-related frauds. This would not be the first time US officials have seized cryptocurrencies involved in scams. In 2020, the feds seized some 70,000 bitcoins that were reportedly connected to the Silk Road. Interestingly, the US government is one of the biggest BTC holders, thanks to multiple seizures. The US reportedly holds about $5 billion in cryptocurrency.