Cryptocurrency firm Tether has frozen $225 million worth of customer funds over allegations of human trafficking.
The company, which controls a stablecoin pinned to the U.S. dollar, took the action after it was reported that the funds were linked to a human trafficking syndicate in Southeast Asia.
The U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and the U.S. Secret Service launched an investigation into a human trafficking group.
The trafficking ring was allegedly using Tether top run a worldwide “pig butchering romance scam.”
By definition, a “pig butchering romance scam” is “A type of fraud in which criminals lure victims into digital relationships to build trust before convincing them to invest in cryptocurrency platforms.”
According to a Tether press release, authorities could track the illicit funds by “analyzing the flow of those funds through the blockchain.”
— Reuters (@Reuters) November 20, 2023
Crypto firm Tether said on Monday that it had frozen $225 million worth of its cryptocurrency which it said had been linked to a human trafficking group in Southeast Asia.
The U.S. Secret Service asked Tether to freeze the tokens during a “months-long investigative effort” by Tether and the crypto exchange OKX, according to Reuters.
No additional details were provided about the scope or timescale of the investigation.
Tether and OKX collaborated with the DOJ on the investigation, Tether said in a blog post, without elaborating.
The crypto tokens were “linked to an international human trafficking syndicate in Southeast Asia responsible for a global “pig butchering” romance scam,” Tether said.
Tether CEO Paolo Ardoino issued a statement, saying:
“Our recent assistance to the Department of Justice underscores our dedication to fostering a secure environment.”
In 2011, the co-founder of Tether, Brock Pierce, was invited to speak at Jeffery Epstein’s Mindshift event.
The event took place at Epstein’s private island in the U.S. Virgin Islands known as “Pedophile Island.”
— KAT TALES TV (@KatTalesTV) May 21, 2023
Pierce attended the event just 18 months after Epstein was convicted as a child sex offender.