Seven domain names used in a recent cryptocurrency confidence crime, known as “pig butchering”, were seized by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia earlier this year. Through these seven domain names, five people were scammed losing $10 million.
In pig butchering schemes, the U.S. Justice Department explains, scammers encounter victims on dating apps, social media websites, or even random texts masquerading as a wrong number. Scammers initiate relationships with victims and slowly gain their trust, eventually introducing the idea of making a business investment using cryptocurrency. Victims are then directed to other members of the scam syndicate running fraudulent cryptocurrency investment platforms, where victims are persuaded to invest money. Once the money is sent to the fake investment app, the scammer vanishes, taking all the money with them, often resulting in significant losses for the victim. And that is exactly what happened in this instance.
According to court records, from at least May through August 2022, scammers induced five victims in the United States by using the seven seized domains, which were all spoofed domains of the Singapore International Monetary Exchange. The term “spoofed” refers to domain spoofing and involves a cyberattack in which fraudsters or hackers seek to persuade individuals that a web address or email belongs to a legitimate and generally trusted company, when in fact it links the user to a false site controlled by a cybercriminal. The scammers — using the confidence-building techniques described above — convinced the victims that they were investing in a legitimate cryptocurrency opportunity. After the victims transferred investments into the deposit addresses that the scammers provided through the seven seized domain names, the victims’ funds were immediately transferred through numerous private wallets and swapping services in an effort to conceal the source of the funds. In total, the victims lost over $10 million.
The Justice Department advises that if one believes they are a victim, to contact CryptoFraud@SecretService.gov or IC3.gov to file a report.