The United States Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia has seized seven domain names used to commit cryptocurrency-related “pig butchering” crimes.
According to a Monday statement from the Ministry of Justice, the crimes date back to August 2022, when scammers defrauded five victims in the United States using domains spoofed to resemble those of the Singapore Money Exchange.
“Swine butchery” is a diet where crooks lure victims on dating apps and social media websites or by sending random messages pretending to be the wrong number. Once trust is established, a victim (pig) is redirected to fraudulent cryptocurrency investment platforms, where they are persuaded to invest before siphoning off their funds. This scheme works on similar principles with traditional scammers who convince victims to invest small amounts in crypto over time before stealing those assets, fattening the pig up before butchering it.
“The crooks convinced the victims that they were investing in a legitimate cryptocurrency opportunity. After the victims transferred investments into the deposit addresses provided by the crooks through the seven seized domain names, the victims’ funds immediately transferred through numerous private wallets and exchange services to conceal the source of the funds,” the statement read. As a result of this scheme, the victims are said to have lost more than $10 million.
While law enforcement has yet to make any arrests at the time of this writing, the DOJ has asked other victims to provide information about their encounters with such scammers.
DOJ sounds the alarm over evolving scam tactics
As crypto firms tighten the security of their platforms, “pig butcher” cryptocurrency scams have become common, resulting in significant losses for victims. These scams are very successful due to the intimate conversations between the scammer and the target. In September, Delaware law enforcement froze the accounts of 23 people involved in crypto-romance scams.
According to a report by blockchain security firm CipherBlade, “tens of billions” of US cryptocurrency dollars were lost to pork butcher scams in 2021 alone. Recently, the New Hampshire DOJ released guidelines on how to stay safe from falling victim to romance scams. The press release urged residents to limit the information they provide publicly on social media sites and to avoid clicking on links sent to them online by people they don’t know or know. have not met in person.