Nice! Tether, the operator behind the stablecoin USDT, and OKX, a major crypto exchange, have recently cooperated with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ). The collaboration led to Tether voluntarily freezing approximately 225 million USDT tokens found in external self-custodied wallets connected to a Southeast Asian human trafficking ring involved in a widespread “pig butchering” romance scam.
This joint investigative venture, which utilized the analytical tools of blockchain analysis firm Chainalysis, marked the largest-ever freeze of USDT in the history of Tether. Over several months, Tether and OKX meticulously tracked the illicit funds’ movements through the blockchain. This diligent analysis enabled them to proactively inform U.S. law enforcement agencies, including the DOJ, about the location of the illegal funds.
Their efforts culminated in a freeze request from the U.S. Secret Service and Tether‘s voluntary compliance with the freeze. It’s notable that the frozen wallets were part of the secondary market and did not belong to Tether’s direct customers. Tether has expressed its commitment to working with law enforcement and the lawful owners of any wallets inadvertently affected by this operation to unfreeze them as necessary.
The decisive actions of Tether and OKX exemplify the potential of collaboration between cryptocurrency industry entities and global law enforcement agencies in combating criminal activities. The inherent transparency of blockchain transactions is proving to be a formidable tool against illegal undertakings, establishing a significant precedent for the industry.
Paolo Ardoino, CEO of Tether, emphasized the company’s commitment to safety and transparency in the crypto space. He highlighted the importance of leveraging technology and industry relationships, such as their collaboration with OKX, to proactively combat illicit activities. Jason Lau, Chief Innovation Officer at OKX, echoed the sentiment, underscoring the importance of collaboration with law enforcement and other industry stakeholders in building trust and serving the public good in the crypto industry.