Crypto firm Tether announced on Monday the freezing of $225 million worth of its cryptocurrency, which was purportedly connected to a human trafficking group in Southeast Asia.
The action followed a request by the U.S. Secret Service amid an extensive investigative effort involving Tether and crypto exchange OKX. Tether’s blog post did not specify the investigation details, including its scope and duration.
Tether reported its collaboration with the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) in the investigation but did not elaborate further. The DOJ has not yet responded to requests for comment.
The cryptocurrency involved was tied to an international human trafficking syndicate in Southeast Asia, responsible for a “pig butchering” romance scam—a term referring to scammers who build trust through social media or dating apps before pressuring victims into bogus crypto investments.
This freeze represents the largest such action by Tether to date. The move comes amidst a broader context of human trafficking in Southeast Asia, as reported by the United Nations in August.
Tether, a stablecoin pegged to the U.S. dollar, is a significant player in the cryptocurrency market, with $87.9 billion tether tokens in circulation, ranking it as the third-largest cryptocurrency after bitcoin and ether, according to CoinGecko data.