The United States Attorney’s office recently filed a civil complaint accusing four digital wallets containing more than 9.8 million Tether (USDT) of being involved in wire fraud, computer fraud, and money laundering. The complaint was led by U.S. Attorney, Tracy Wilkinson.
In April 2021, a California resident was swindled out of over 200 Bitcoin (BTC) by someone pretending to be a Coinbase employee, court documents stated.
It appears that the unidentified victim, shortly after buying some 200 BTC on Coinbase Pro, was contacted by Coinbase customer service.
An alleged representative of the platform told the victim that the amount of the purchase had frozen the victim’s account and that a transaction limit increase was required to process the funds. Furthermore, the scammer suggested that the victim upgrade to Coinbase Prime.
The swindler initiated a transaction once the victim gave them access to the account via remote desktop to which they transferred approximately 206 BTC to what was supposed to be the victim’s new Prime wallet.
Within a few hours, several smaller transactions were also executed which resulted in the theft of nearly $11.5 million in digital assets from the victim’s Coinbase account.
The claim further describes how the digital assets were divided up into smaller transaction pieces and later concentrated in the four suspect wallets.
For the time being, the government has asked the court to allow it to seize the assets.
The federal government must prove the funds are forfeitable, according to Daniel Davis in an interview with Cointelegraph. He stated that if the plaintiff prevails, he or she will forfeit the proceeds to the United States before they can be returned to the legitimate owner.
“Using civil forfeiture authority to seize digital assets is a growing trend in which the federal government is trying to seize digital assets. In the future, civil forfeiture actions will grow as digital assets become more popular, especially if the government believes they were part of illegal activity,” Davis said.
Experts further believe the recovery of stolen cryptocurrency is an urgent need as one of the biggest issues in the space is stolen digital assets. Hopefully, law enforcement, as well as civil litigants, will take more actions like this.