The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has announced the seizure of nearly $9 million in stablecoin Tether. These seized funds were traced to cryptocurrency addresses allegedly associated with an organization that exploited over 70 victims through romance scams and cryptocurrency confidence scams, which are widely known as “pig butchering.” The DOJ also acknowledged Tether‘s cooperation.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicole M. Argentieri of the DOJ’s Criminal Division highlighted the operation’s impact: “Through this significant seizure, we disrupted the financial infrastructure of an organized network of scammers who stole millions from victims across the United States.” These scammers reportedly deceived ordinary investors using fake websites, convincing them they were making profitable investments. In reality, these international criminals were merely siphoning off cryptocurrency from their victims.
The DOJ’s intervention is expected to bring some closure to the over 70 victims affected by these scams. Court documents reveal that these criminals persuaded victims to deposit cryptocurrencies under the guise of investing with trustworthy firms and exchanges. However, these entities were non-existent trading platforms.
The U.S. Secret Service (USSS) traced the victim deposits and observed that the funds were quickly laundered through various cryptocurrency addresses and exchanged for different cryptocurrencies in a technique known as “chain hopping,” used to obscure the origins of criminal proceeds.
The USSS San Francisco Field Office spearheaded the investigation. The case, along with the seizure and forfeiture actions, is being managed by Trial Attorney Georgiana MacDonald of the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section, National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team, and Assistant U.S. Attorneys Chris Kaltsas and Galen Phillips for the Northern District of California.
The DOJ also acknowledged Tether‘s cooperation in facilitating the transfer of the seized assets. This significant seizure marks a pivotal step in combating cyber-enabled financial crimes and protecting investors from fraudulent schemes.