Crypto firm Tether says it has frozen $225 million linked to human trafficking. The cryptocurrency company Tether announced on Monday that it has blocked $225 million worth of its assets because it believes they were associated with a Southeast Asian human trafficking organization.
Tether stated in a blog post that the U.S. Secret Service had requested that the tokens be frozen during a “months-long investigative effort” involving Tether and the cryptocurrency exchange OKX. However, Tether did not provide specifics regarding the extent or timeliness of the probe.
The Secret Service did not immediately respond to Reuters’s comment request.
Without further details, Tether stated that OKX and Tether worked with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) on the investigation. A spokeswoman did not immediately answer requests for responses from the DOJ.
According to Tether, the cryptocurrency tokens were “connected to a global “pig slaughtering” romance scam orchestrated by an international human trafficking syndicate in Southeast Asia.”
The phrase “pig butchering” usually describes situations in which a con artist gains the trust of their victims using messaging services, social media, and dating apps, then coerces them into making investments in fraudulent cryptocurrency or online trading schemes.
Tether withheld information on the group’s activities and bitcoin usage. Tether said this was the most significant token freeze in company history.
A study by the U.N. published in August claims that criminal gangs in Southeast Asia are recruiting hundreds of thousands of people to work in fraud centers and other illegal online businesses.
One such “stablecoin” that is correlated with the U.S. dollar is Tether. According to CoinGecko data, $87.9 billion worth of tether tokens are in circulation, placing it third in size among cryptocurrencies, behind only bitcoin and ether.