BOSTON – The United States Attorney’s Office filed a civil forfeiture action to recover cryptocurrency alleged to be the proceeds of a “pig-butchering” fraud scheme targeting a Massachusetts resident and involved in money laundering. Specifically, the government seeks to forfeit 412,543.555 Tether (USDT) and 100.896 Binance Coin (BNB) seized from two accounts located at Binance.com, a cryptocurrency exchange and custodian. Collectively, this cryptocurrency has a current estimated value of around $434,000.
In early 2023, an investigation began into a pig-butchering scheme targeting a Massachusetts resident. In a pig-butchering scheme, scammers obtain funds from victims using manipulative tactics. The scammer establishes a level of trust with a victim in online communications and then entices the victim into investing in a fraudulent cryptocurrency scheme. Often the victim is enticed to make additional payments, before realizing they are a victim of fraud.
As alleged in court documents, after targeting a Massachusetts victim and fostering an online relationship, scammers claiming to have access to profitable investment opportunities induced the victim to invest personal funds into a fake cryptocurrency investment platform. Law enforcement was able to trace cryptocurrency involved in the fraud and money laundering to two Binance accounts, where it was seized.
It is a violation of federal law to use wire communications as part of a scheme to defraud or to obtain money or property by means of false or fraudulent pretenses. It is also a violation of federal law to conduct, or attempt to conduct, a financial transaction involving property which is known to represent the proceeds of some form of unlawful activity, knowing that such transaction is designed to conceal or disguise the nature, location, source, ownership, or control of those proceeds of unlawful activity. The complaint alleges that the defendant cryptocurrency is traceable to proceeds of wire fraud and was involved in money laundering. 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.
This is the seventh civil forfeiture action the U.S. Attorney’s Office has ever filed seeking to forfeit cryptocurrency traced to fraud schemes targeting Massachusetts victims.
Members of the public who believe they are victims of a cybercrime – including cryptocurrency scams, romance scams, investment scams and pig-butchering fraud scams – should contact USAMA.CyberTip@usdoj.gov.
Acting United States Attorney Joshua S. Levy and Andrew Murphy, Special Agent in Charge of the United States Secret Service, Boston Field Office made the announcement today. The civil forfeiture action is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Brendan T. Mockler of the Asset Recovery Unit.
The details contained in the civil forfeiture complaint are allegations. The United States Attorney’s Office has not filed a corresponding criminal action on the matter.