Human Trafficking: Tether and US justice freeze $225M in cryptos

Tether, the issuer of the USDT stablecoin, has just carried out the largest freeze in the history of cryptocurrencies. $225 million in USDT in 37 wallets frozen without trial. This was the result of a joint criminal investigation with the US Department of Justice. Details below.

American justice asks Tether to investigate crypto-related crimes

The commitment of players in the crypto ecosystem against the use of cryptoassets in criminal activities is beginning to increase. The society Tether announced this Monday, November 20, having frozen $225 million in USDT in 32 wallet addresses in a joint investigation with the American justice system.

Indeed, the American Department of Justice has been investigating an international human trafficking organization based in Southeast Asia for several months. The organization was actually involved in a “pig butchering” scam that cost U.S. citizens $3.3 billion in 2022 alone.

To identify crypto wallets linked to this criminal activity, American authorities teamed up with players in the Web3 ecosystem. The investigation was jointly carried out with Tether, Chainalysis which provided the blockchain analysis tools and the OKX crypto exchange where most of the illicit funds had been transferred.

After several months of investigation, the funds were finally located on the secondary market. At the request of the American secret services, Tether therefore froze $225 million in USDT found in 32 wallets associated with the criminal organization.

Tether, in collaboration with the American justice system, froze $225M in USDT linked to criminal activities

Tether commits to transparency

In its press release, Tether clarified that the frozen crypto wallets were autonomous wallets and did not belong to the company’s customers. The company also promised it would unfreeze the funds if the legal owners reported to law enforcement. The CEO of Tether also indicated that the company will continue to “collaborate with judicial institutions in investigating suspicious crypto transactions”.

It is since the security breach which cost it $31 million in 2017 that Tether has been committed to real-time transparency in the crypto space. Last October, for example, the company froze 32 wallets linked to terrorism and the war in Ukraine and Israel. All this proves that the American justice system can collaborate with companies in the ecosystem to discourage the use of cryptos for criminal purposes.

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