Court Authorizes the Seizure of Domains Used in Furtherance of a Cryptocurrency “Pig Butchering” Scheme
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia announced today the seizure of seven domain names used in a recent cryptocurrency confidence crime, known as “pig butchering.”
In pig butchering schemes, scammers encounter victims on dating apps, social media websites, or even random texts masquerading as a wrong number. Scammers initiate relationships with victims and slowly gain their trust, eventually introducing the idea of making a business investment using cryptocurrency. Victims are then directed to other members of the scam syndicate running fraudulent cryptocurrency investment platforms, where victims are persuaded to invest money. Once the money is sent to the fake investment app, the scammer vanishes, taking all the money with them, often resulting in significant losses for the victim. And that is exactly what happened in this instance.
According to court records, from at least May through August 2022, scammers induced five victims in the United States by using the seven seized domains, which were all spoofed domains of the Singapore International Monetary Exchange. The term “spoofed” refers to domain spoofing and involves a cyberattack in which fraudsters or hackers seek to persuade individuals that a web address or email belongs to a legitimate and generally trusted company, when in fact it links the user to a false site controlled by a cybercriminal. The scammers — using the confidence-building techniques described above — convinced the victims that they were investing in a legitimate cryptocurrency opportunity. After the victims transferred investments into the deposit addresses that the scammers provided through the seven seized domain names, the victims’ funds were immediately transferred through numerous private wallets and swapping services in an effort to conceal the source of the funds. In total, the victims lost over $10 million.
If you believe you are a victim, please contact CryptoFraud@SecretService.gov or IC3.gov to file a report. Please provide detailed information in your report, including any purported investment websites visited, telephone numbers, email accounts, and social media profiles used by scammers, and any cryptocurrency addresses, transaction hashes, and dates of transactions. Your responses are voluntary. Based on the information provided, you may be contacted by the United States Secret Service or other law enforcement entity and asked to provide additional information. This office cannot act as your attorney or provide you with legal advice. However, you may seek the advice of an attorney with respect to this or other related legal matters.
Jessica D. Aber, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; William Mancino, Special Agent in Charge, Criminal Investigative Division of the U.S. Secret Service; and Matthew Stohler, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Secret Service’s Washington Field Office, announced the seizure of the domain names.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Annie Zanobini, Zoe Bedell, and Carina A. Cuellar. Georgiana L. MacDonald of the Justice Department’s National Cryptocurrency Enforcement Team (NCET) provided substantial assistance in this action.
A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:22-sw-596.