2023 On Tuesday 21 November, the Department of Justice seized approximately $9 million worth of tether – dollar-linked stablecoin – from online scammers.
“Romance & Confidence” Scams
The Department says there were more than 70 victims of the criminal enterprise, which has been operating for some time. The process, known as “pig butchering,” used romance scams and cryptocurrency confidence scams to extract cryptocurrency from its victims.
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 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,
— said Nicole M. Argentieri, acting assistant attorney general of the DOJ’s criminal division.
The purpose of the scam was to trick the victims into investing in fake companies or cryptoexchanges that were falsely presented as trustworthy.
To launder the money, the fraudsters used a practice known as “chain hopping”. This involves sending the money through several blockchains, including one that does not have a transparent record-keeping system. The final destination is a blockchain from which the money is already easily accessible.
“This seizure is the culmination of the exceptional hard work and collaborative partnership between the Justice Department and the United States Secret Service,
— said U.S. Attorney Ismail J. Ramsey for the Northern District of California.
Silicon Valley remains one of the world’s preeminent locations for cryptocurrency firms. As such, we remain dedicated to using all tools at our disposal to bring justice to the victims of frauds and scams. Even when money and criminals are abroad, we will work with our partners to seize cyber criminals’ illegal proceeds.”
Protecting the Financial Infrastucture of the USA
This seizure exemplifies the Secret Service’s mission to protect the financial infrastructure of the United States. We remain determined and vigilant to combat cyber-enabled financial fraud.
— said Special Agent in Charge Shawn Bradstreet of the USSS San Franscisco Field Office.
It is a priority for the Secret Service to protect the financial security that citizens work so hard to obtain. We want to thank the Justice Department for their partnership, dedication, and outstanding work on this case.
— he added.