The Investor Protection Unit of Delaware’s Department of Justice (DOJ) has scored a significant win over digital asset romance scammers by freezing their holdings. In a press release, the DOJ revealed that it has issued a Summary Order to Cease and Desist against 23 individuals and entities involved in the illegal activity.
The statement confirmed that the individuals were operating a “pig butchering scam” in the Delaware area, costing victims losses that run into billions of dollars. The pig butchering scam is a version of the typical romance scam in which the bad actor “fattens” the victims by gaining their trust before swooping in for the kill.
The bad actors lure victims into investing small sums of virtual currencies in their fake investment platforms, promising them mouthwatering returns. Having faith in the perpetrators, the victim proceeds to invest an even larger sum before the scammer pulls the plug, disappearing with the illegally collected funds.
“Protecting investors from online scammers is extremely important,” remarked Kathy Jennings, Attorney General of the State of Delaware. “When victims lose money through cryptocurrency scams, including the pig butchering scam, it can be difficult to recover those funds.”
“Today’s order takes a first step toward protecting Delaware investors from the pig butchering scam by freezing funds at risk from further transfer by the wrongdoers,” said Jennings.
The DOJ’s Investor Protection Unit worked with an on-chain analytics company to track the digital assets sent to the scammers across several agencies. The Order precludes the exchanges from allowing entities to move or interact with the wallets, acting as a sort of freeze on the holdings of the bad actors.
In recent weeks, law enforcement has been notching victories over hackers, the most famous being the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) recovery of a portion of the ransom paid to the Colonial Pipeline hackers. Most recently, the FBI and Chainalysis tracked stolen digital assets to Darkside, a North Korean hacking group responsible for daring attacks in the ecosystem.
Here’s how to stay safe
The Investor Protection Unit issued some tips to residents to prevent them from falling victim to romance scams. The press statement noted that citizens should keep their guard when interacting with strangers online, especially those instigating conversations.
Residents are also advised to be wary of people with claims of having made enormous amounts of money from digital asset trading and remain skeptical of claims of a risk-free investment opportunity.
“Remember that there is no such thing as a risk-free investment, read the warning. “If something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.”
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