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Fraud & Identity Theft

US Seizes $1.4 Million in Cryptocurrency From Tech Scammers

The US seized approximately $1.4 million worth of Tether tokens suspected of being fraud proceeds from tech scams.

US law enforcement has seized $1.4 million worth of Tether (USDT) tokens believed to have been fraudulently obtained through tech support scams.

As part of the alleged scheme, which mainly targeted the elderly across the US, victims were targeted with popups on their computers, claiming that the system had been compromised.

The victims were directed to contact Microsoft or Apple, depending on the operating system on their machine, by calling a certain phone number that connected them with the perpetrators, who posed as tech support employees.

The fraudsters then convinced the victims to install remote access programs on their systems and told them that their Social Security numbers and bank accounts had been compromised as well, connecting them with other perpetrators who impersonated employees of the victim’s bank.

Finally, the victims were convinced to convert their funds to cryptocurrency to allegedly protect them, and to transfer them to cryptocurrency wallets controlled by the perpetrators and their co-conspirators.

After identifying cryptocurrency addresses used by the fraudsters, the FBI obtained a court order to seize the suspected fraud proceeds, which will be returned to the victims.

In the affidavit (PDF) for the seizure warrant, the FBI revealed that the funds had been transferred to five wallet addresses in relatively small batches, using intermediary addresses, likely to launder them.

The FBI also called for immediate action, raising concerns that the funds could “be withdrawn, moved, dissipated, or otherwise become unavailable for forfeiture”.

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The affidavit also reveals that one of the victims had transferred at least $3 million to the scammers. The fraudsters’ accounts were frozen in March 2023.

Tether, the company that launched the cryptocurrency stablecoin in 2014, provided voluntary support to the US authorities in seizing the funds.

According to the FBI’s cybercrime report for 2023, reported losses have totaled over $12.5 billion, 22% higher compared to 2022. 

Related: 3,500 Arrested, $300 Million Seized in International Crackdown on Online Fraud

Related: German Authorities Take Down ‘Crimemarket’ Cybercrime Website

Related: Law Enforcement Hacks LockBit Ransomware, Delivers Major Blow to Operation

Written By

Ionut Arghire is an international correspondent for SecurityWeek.

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