- The largest-ever USDT freeze was announced by the stablecoin issuer – Tether
- The freeze was connected to an international crime syndicate involved in pig butchering scam
Crypto exchange – OKX and USDT issuer – Tether announced the freeze of 225 million in stolen USDT, making it the largest freeze in USDT’s history. In a blog post released today, Tether stated that the funds were linked to an international crime syndicate. Additionally, the investigation into this matter was conducted in collaboration with the US Department of Justice (DoJ).
The blog post read,
“Tether proactively and voluntarily freezing approximately 225 million in USDT tokens in external self-custodied wallets linked to an international human trafficking syndicate in Southeast Asia responsible for a global “pig butchering” romance scam.”
The rising scam sees Tether taking proactive measures
Pig butchering is one of the rising scams in the crypto space. Originating in China, the scheme has the scammer reach out to the victim on different social media platforms. Upon gaining trust, the scammer persuades the victim to invest in crypto through a malicious app or website, which appears to be authentic.
Once the victim has deposited some amount of money on the platform, the portal will display the gains they have made. In the initial process, it would also allow the victim to withdraw their money. And, after the victim deposits all their money, the scammers would close the account and take home all the victim’s money.
Prior to Tether’s action, this scam has come under the authorities’ radar multiple times in the past. The most recent one was the Delaware DoJ’s action resulting in a cease-and-desist order against 23 entities. Moreover, this kind of scam has resulted in the loss of over $3.3 billion just last year, according to the FBI.
Notably, the USDT issuer also stated that the frozen wallets were on a secondary market and were not associated with its customers. Additionally, the firm stated that it deployed Chainalysis tools to conduct the months-long investigation.
OKX eyes Hong Kong permit
Subsequently, crypto exchange OKX has applied for Hong Kong virtual asset trading platform license, indicating its interest in expanding to the region. The application was submitted on November 16, as per the Securities and Futures Commission website. So far, there are a total of seven companies that have applied for the license, with OKX and Panthertrade being the latest.
In a statement to Bloomberg Law, the Global Chief Commercial Officer – Lennix Lai – said,
“OKX has always been an advocate for progressive regulation, as we believe that the global digital-asset ecosystem of the future will be regulated.”