The US Division of Justice introduced it had seized roughly $9 million value of Tether (USDT) following the stablecoin issuer freezing funds related to a prison group chargeable for romance scams.
In a Nov. 21 announcement, the Justice Division said the seized funds got here from “scammers who stole hundreds of thousands from victims throughout the USA” and had been presumably a part of Tether’s efforts to freeze $225 million worth of USDT in “exterior self-custodied wallets” related to the rip-off. The funds had been allegedly tied to a company chargeable for “pig butchering” romance scams, wherein unhealthy actors try and develop a web-based relationship with unsuspecting people, usually convincing them to spend money on authentic companies earlier than conning them.
“These scammers prey on peculiar buyers by creating web sites that inform victims their investments are working to make them cash,” mentioned Appearing Assistant Lawyer Basic Nicole Argentieri. “The reality is that these worldwide prison actors are merely stealing cryptocurrency and leaving victims with nothing […] though the present panorama of the cryptocurrency ecosystem could appear to be a super option to launder ill-gotten positive factors, regulation enforcement will proceed to develop the experience wanted to comply with the cash and seize it again for victims.”
— Felony Division (@DOJCrimDiv) November 21, 2023
In keeping with the Justice Division, analysts with the U.S. Secret Service traced the crypto, which had been laundered via completely different pockets addresses and exchanges — a follow referred to as “chain hopping.” The U.S. authorities additionally acknowledged Tether’s contribution “for its help in effectuating the switch of those property.”
U.S. officers have beforehand used their authority to grab illicit funds tied to crypto-related scams and crimes, corresponding to when it took management of roughly 70,000 Bitcoin (BTC) linked to Silk Highway in 2020. linked to Silk Highway in 2020. Crypto agency 21.co reported in October that the U.S. authorities held more than $5 billion in crypto based on its evaluation of seizures.
On Nov. 21, the Justice Division mentioned it deliberate to announce “vital cryptocurrency enforcement actions” in coordination with the U.S. Treasury and Commodity Futures Buying and selling Fee. Many speculated that the announcement referred to a reported $4-billion settlement with Binance, wherein Changpeng Zhao reportedly plan to step down.