In the latest crypto scam dubbed “pig butchering,” the Department of Justice (DOJ) announced an $80 million fraud, with victims not only in the U.S. but also overseas. The scammers, located in Asia, are unwittingly involved in human trafficking.
The pig butchering scam is an online fraud, exploiting victims through emotional manipulation and deceptive investment tactics. It is a dual-threat crime, impacting both individual investors and trafficked persons.
The UK has responded by imposing sanctions on entities and individuals in Southeast Asia associated with these scams.
The sanctions aim to disrupt the trafficking networks and the businesses they use as fronts, especially in Cambodia. These scams are rife with human rights violations, such as torture and inhumane treatment.
The DOJ has been pursuing pig butchering scams aggressively and has seized significant amounts of money from these operations in recent years. Cryptocurrency-related fraud losses have surged by 183% in one year, from 2021 to 2022, reaching a staggering $2.57 billion.
Blockchain technology’s transparency has enabled law enforcement to trace, freeze, and recover funds from several pig butchering scams. However, these fraudulent schemes still inflict severe harm on unsuspecting investors and families, as noted by DOJ’s Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite, Jr.
Pig butchering scams have also attracted the attention of other global agencies, such as FinCEN. TRM Labs reports that these scams are linked to large criminal networks that operate across Southeast Asia.
Cryptocurrencies’ transparency allows authorities to identify and sanction the criminals, tackling the problem at its origin overseas. As the adoption of digital currency, particularly crypto, increases, regulators must find and implement measures to protect vulnerable and unsuspecting investors.