DOJ, Secret Service Seek Forfeiture of $2.3 Million in Cryptocurrencies Tied to Pig Butchering

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DOJ, Secret Service Seek Forfeiture of $2.3 Million in Cryptocurrencies Tied to Pig Butchering

Last week, the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Massachusetts, working with the United States Secret Service, filed a civil forfeiture action to recover cryptocurrency alleged to include proceeds of a “pig butchering” scheme. TRM is proud to support the United States Secret Service (USSS) in this, and other investigations.

The government seeks to forfeit USD 2.3 million in fraud proceeds in cryptocurrencies USDC, USDT, TRX, ETH, SOL, and BNB. Investigators were able to trace proceeds of the fraud to accounts located at Binance and worked with the exchange to freeze the accounts.

As alleged in the court filing, a Massachusetts resident was a victim of a romance scam and was tricked into wiring over $400,000 into a cryptocurrency wallet. Some of those funds were subsequently transferred to other wallets and ultimately to Binance. 

Some of the funds were traced to two Binance accounts which, with support from the exchange, were seized in January 2024. The investigation revealed that the accounts had been associated with funds from 36 other victims of fraud located across the United States. 

The below TRM graphs, Attachments A, B, and C to the Forfeiture Complaint, show victim funds move to Binance, at which point the funds were frozen and seized.

The forfeiture action alleges that the seized cryptocurrency is traceable to proceeds of wire fraud and was involved in money laundering and is subject to forfeiture. A civil forfeiture action allows third parties to assert claims to property, which must be resolved before the property can be forfeited to the United States and returned to victims.

Acting United States Attorney Joshua S. Levy and Andrew Murphy, Special Agent in Charge of the United States Secret Service, Boston Field Office announced the seizure and forfeiture action. The civil forfeiture action is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Matthew M. Lyons of the Asset Recovery Unit. 

The Secret Service, in recent months, has been focused on pig butchering. On November 21, 2023, the U.S. Department of Justice announced the seizure of nearly $9 million worth of the stablecoin USDT. The seized funds were traced to cryptocurrency addresses allegedly associated with a Southeast Asia based organization that exploited over 70 victims through “pig butchering” scams. 

Read more about how Secret Service investigates pig butchering schemes here.

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