- Tether, the stablecoin issuer and Crypto exchange Okx declares the largest-ever USDT freeze.
- The freeze is linked to an international crime syndicate engaged in a pig butchering scam.
In a groundbreaking move, cryptocurrency exchange OKX and stablecoin issuer Tether have jointly announced the freezing of $225 million in stolen USDT, marking the most extensive seizure in the history of the popular stablecoin.
The funds were traced back to an international crime syndicate involved in a notorious “pig butchering” romance scam, where individuals are lured into online relationships and persuaded to invest in seemingly legitimate businesses before falling victim to fraudulent schemes.
The unprecedented freeze, detailed in a recent blog post by Tether, was the result of a collaborative effort between Tether, OKX, and the United States Department of Justice (DoJ).
The investigation, spanning several months, focused on tracking the location of the illicit funds in “external self-custodied wallets.” Tether affirmed its commitment to working closely with U.S. authorities to unfreeze any “lawful” wallets that might have been inadvertently seized during the operation.
Paolo Ardoino, CEO of Tether, emphasized the company’s proactive engagement with law enforcement globally and its commitment to transparency, aiming to establish a new safety standard within the cryptocurrency realm. Ardoino stated, “Our collaboration with the DOJ highlights our dedication to fostering security.“
The discovery of the illicit funds’ location was achieved through a thorough analysis of blockchain transactions. Importantly, the frozen wallets are situated on the secondary market and are not directly linked to Tether’s customers.
Tether’s decision to freeze the assets came after an extensive “months-long investigative effort.”
Notably, the Department of Justice (DOJ) made the request for asset freezing subsequent to identifying the illicit funds. Tether has expressed its ongoing commitment to collaborating with law enforcement, particularly in the event that any lawful wallets were inadvertently frozen during the operation.
This proactive approach underscores Tether’s commitment to ensuring the safety and integrity of the cryptocurrency ecosystem. Tether has a history of collaborating with global law enforcement agencies, as seen in its partnership with Israel’s National Bureau for Counter Terror Financing.
This collaboration resulted in the freezing of approximately $873,000 in USDT, suspected to be linked to funding terrorist activities in Israel and Ukraine.
The recent $225 million freeze marks the most substantial in Tether’s history, showcasing the company’s ongoing efforts to combat illicit use of its stablecoin.