In a coordinated move with the United States Department of Justice (DOJ), cryptocurrency firm Tether and global crypto exchange OKX have frozen $225 million in USDT tokens.
This measure, the largest stablecoin freeze to date, is part of an investigation into a human trafficking syndicate in Southeast Asia that has used a “pig butchering” romance scam.
This international crime ring has been linked to substantial financial losses, with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) reporting that U.S. citizens lost $3.3 billion to the scam last year.
The investigation, which spanned several months, leveraged blockchain analysis tools from Chainalysis. The frozen funds, held in external self-custodied wallets, are not associated with Tether’s direct customers, ensuring no impact on legitimate users of the platform.
In a statement, Paolo Ardoino, CEO of Tether, underscored the significance of this collaborative effort: “Through proactive engagement with global law enforcement agencies and our commitment to transparency, Tether aims to set a new standard for safety within the crypto space.”
This initiative marks Tether’s continued involvement in global security efforts, following its recent action to freeze 32 crypto addresses linked to terrorism and warfare in Ukraine and Israel.
The company has expressed its commitment to assisting law enforcement and working with the owners of any lawful wallets inadvertently involved in the freeze, aiming for a prompt and just resolution.
This case demonstrates the growing potential for collaborative efforts between cryptocurrency companies and law enforcement agencies in tackling complex international criminal activities, as was mentioned by Jessi Brooks, CCO and legal officer at Ribbit Capital, during a recent episode of Unchained.
🎯 What is one of terrorists’ go-tos when it comes to crypto?
Jessi Brooks, CCO and legal officer at Ribbit Capital, says Tether on Tron is the stable of choice for bad actors, but notes that smart contracts could be a game-changer in stopping them.
— Laura Shin (@laurashin) November 14, 2023