• Tether voluntarily froze $225 million worth of USDT linked to an international human trafficking syndicate.
  • The United States Department of Justice and web3 platform OKX collaborated on the investigation, which led to the seizure of assets.
  • The scam known as "pig butchering" has been rampant in Southeast Asian countries like India, where victims are lured and robbed on the pretext of high returns on investment.

Tether announced on Monday that it froze about $225 million worth of USDT voluntarily, marking the largest freeze in the history of the stablecoin. The external self-custodial wallets that held the assets were linked to an international human trafficking syndicate within Southeast Asia. This syndicate is globally responsible for the “pig butchering” romance scam.

Tether freezes scammers' funding

The move was made by Tether following an investigation conducted by the stablecoin issuer along with OKX and the United States Department of Justice (DOJ).

Discussing the decision, the Chief Executive Officer of Tether, Paolo Ardoino, stated,

Our recent collaboration with the Department of Justice underscores our dedication to fostering a secure environment. We believe in leveraging technology and relationships, such as our collaboration with OKX, to proactively address illicit activities and uphold the highest standards of integrity in the industry.

The pig butchering scam has noted an alarming rise in cases in Southeast Asia countries such as India. Perpetrators lure victims in multiple ways by either luring them using romantic aspirations or feeding them false expectations of staggering returns on investments. These scammers then disappear with the victims' money.

The frozen wallets and assets belonged to the secondary market and were not associated with Tether’s customers. However, the interference of Tether at its own volition proves that while it is good to have a central authority to deter the use of crypto assets and blockchain technology for illicit purposes, it also minimizes the decentralization of the space.


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