The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) says it has seized cryptocurrency worth over $112 million linked to fraudulent investment schemes known as “pig butchering.” According to court documents, the seized crypto accounts were allegedly “used to launder proceeds of various cryptocurrency confidence scams,” the Justice Department said.
$112 Million in Crypto Seized by DOJ
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) announced Monday that it has seized cryptocurrency worth more than $112 million “linked to cryptocurrency investment scams.” Noting that the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Phoenix Division is investigating this case, the announcement details:
Seizure warrants for six virtual currency accounts were authorized by judges in the District of Arizona, the Central District of California, and the District of Idaho.
“According to court documents, the virtual currency accounts were allegedly used to launder proceeds of various cryptocurrency confidence scams,” the DOJ said.
The announcement describes “pig butchering” schemes where scammers often target victims through “social networking and online communications platforms, dating websites, and phone calls and text messages that are meant to appear to have been misdialed.” After gaining the trust of their victims, scammers introduce the idea of cryptocurrency trading and persuade them to invest in crypto schemes where the funds are redirected to accounts controlled by them.
Victims may see apparent gains and even withdraw some money to build trust. However, after making a large investment, they can’t withdraw their funds. Scammers may request more money for taxes or fees, promising access to the account. The scam continues until the victim’s savings are depleted.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI)’s Internet Crimes Complaint Center (IC3) recently revealed that investment fraud accounted for the highest losses of any scam, totaling $3.31 billion. The agency noted that cryptocurrency investment fraud rose 183% from $907 million in 2021 to $2.57 billion in 2022.
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