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Press Release

United States Files Forfeiture Action to Recover Cryptocurrency Traceable to Pig Butchering Romance Scam

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Massachusetts
Crypto proceeds currently valued at over $2 million

BOSTON – The United States Attorney’s Office filed a civil forfeiture action to recover cryptocurrency alleged to include proceeds of a “pig butchering” fraud scheme targeting a Massachusetts resident as part of a romance scam. Specifically, the government seeks to forfeit 299,457.4 USD Coin (USDC), 1,455,305.997648 Tether (USDT), 102,278.515015 Tron (TRX), 3,032.1689461 Solana (SOL), 67.79400436 Binance Coin (BNB), 13,703.955431 Cardano (ADA) and 0.54151495 Ether (ETH) seized from two accounts located at Binance, a cryptocurrency exchange and custodian. Collectively, this cryptocurrency has a current estimated value of approximately $2,300,000.

In the spring of 2023, an investigation began into a “pig butchering” fraud 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. The “butchering” or “slaughtering” of the victim occurs once the victim’s assets, or funds, are stolen by the criminal, or criminals, ultimately causing the victim financial and emotional harm. Perpetrators behind “pig butchering” fraud schemes are often located overseas.  

As alleged in court documents, a Massachusetts resident was a victim of a romance scam and was tricked into wiring over $400,000 into a cryptocurrency wallet hosted by a legitimate cryptocurrency exchange. Some of those funds were subsequently transferred to other wallets and ultimately to Binance. Some of the funds were traced to two Binance accounts and the cryptocurrency was seized in January 2024. The investigation revealed that the accounts from which the cryptocurrency was seized had been associated with funds from 36 other victims of fraud located across the United States. 

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 cryptocurrency is traceable to proceeds of wire fraud and was involved in money laundering and is subject to forfeiture. 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 one of several civil forfeiture actions the U.S. Attorney’s Office has 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

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 Matthew M. Lyons 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.

Updated March 13, 2024

Asset Forfeiture