The U.S. Justice Department has seized nearly $9 million in Tether, a cryptocurrency closely tied to the U.S. dollar. This significant move targets an organization allegedly linked to widespread romance and cryptocurrency scams, often referred to as “pig butchering,” affecting over 70 victims.
Tether-Linked Deceptive Web
Investigations revealed a disturbing pattern where criminals targeted individuals, persuading them to invest in fictitious firms and cryptocurrency exchanges. This elaborate ruse involved convincing victims that their investments were yielding returns. However, the reality was starkly different since these platforms did not exist. The U.S. Secret Service’s meticulous work uncovered that these funds underwent rapid laundering through various cryptocurrency addresses and a technique known as “chain hopping.” This method layers criminal proceeds into new cryptocurrency ecosystems, concealing their origin and ownership.
Law Enforcement’s Vigilance and Commitment
Acting Assistant Attorney General Nicole M. Argentieri emphasized the operation’s impact:
“Through this significant seizure, we disrupted the financial infrastructure of an organized network of scammers.”
This action sends a clear message to cybercriminals about the evolving capabilities of law enforcement in tracking and recovering illicitly gained digital assets.
Collaborative Efforts Yielding Results
This operation showcases the collaborative efforts between the Justice Department and the U.S. Secret Service. Moreover, U.S. Attorney Ismail J. Ramsey for the Northern District of California highlighted Silicon Valley’s status as a hub for cryptocurrency firms and the commitment to using all available tools to bring justice to fraud victims.
In addition, Special Agent in Charge Shawn Bradstreet of the USSS San Francisco Field Office reaffirmed the Secret Service’s dedication to protecting the United States financial infrastructure from cyber-enabled financial fraud.
The success of this seizure also owes much to Tether’s cooperation in transferring the assets. This case, led by the USSS San Francisco Field Office and managed by experienced attorneys from the Criminal Division’s Computer Crime and Intellectual Property Section and the National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team, is a testament to the unwavering efforts to combat financial crimes in the digital age.
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