According to a recent public filing, the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has seized around $1.7 million of digital assets from users suspected of violating federal regulations in a three-month crackdown.
In a crackdown lasting from March to May, the law enforcement agency seized various cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin, Ether, Dai, Monero and Tether. They also confiscated fiat currency (U.S. dollars), weapons and luxury cars. These items, among others, are believed to be connected to illegal activities in the crypto space.
This crackdown followed the agency’s confiscation of $250,000 worth of cryptocurrency in February from two locations.
“The Federal Bureau of Investigation gives notice that the property listed below was seized for federal forfeiture for violation of federal law,” read the agency’s statement.
According to the filing, the FBI seized 428.5 ETH — worth approximately $800,000 at the time of seizure — from four wallets in the Eastern District of Virginia. Other cryptocurrencies seized include $147,000 in Bitcoin, $307,000 in Tether, 469,000 in Dai, $20,000 in Monero and $200 in Dogecoin.
These digital assets were mainly seized from hardware wallets and accounts on crypto exchanges. Binance accounted for the most seizures, with 46 cases. No seizures were recorded from other major exchanges, such as Coinbase, Kraken, Kucoin and OKX.
Most of the seizures happened in Florida and Virginia. There were several cases spread across other states, such as Arizona, California and Connecticut.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) reported that the total amount of money lost to cryptocurrency scams had increased by 900 percent since 2020. The figure represented incidents reported to authorities, suggesting that the actual number of scams might be even higher.
The FBI has been issuing warnings to the crypto community about potential threats in recent years. Last May, the FBI warned about fake crypto job offerings that coerce victims into committing investment fraud, which could result in losing their hard-earned money.
Three months later, in August, the bureau issued a public statement cautioning internet users about criminals posing as NFT developers and defrauding unsuspecting individuals.
“Fraudulent posts often aim to create a sense of urgency, using phrases like “limited supply,” and refer to the promotion as a “surprise” or previously unannounced mint,” the statement read.
The statement also warned about links in some crypto-related posts, as they are phishing lures that direct victims to fake websites that mimic the appearance of legitimate NFT projects. These websites then trick victims into connecting their crypto wallets and purchasing NFTs that are worthless or nonexistent.
Then, assets stolen from victims’ wallets will be processed through crypto mixers and exchanges. This method will hide the path and final destination of the stolen NFTs, making it challenging to retrieve the lost assets.
Analysts note that counteracting criminal activities in the cryptocurrency space remains a challenging task, despite the ongoing efforts of law enforcement agencies.
Cryptocurrencies’ decentralized nature makes it challenging to regulate and monitor transactions. The lack of a central governing body complicated coordinated enforcement efforts across jurisdictions.
Anyone who falls victim to these fraudulent or suspicious activities can contact the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center. They can include any links, social media accounts, crypto accounts or domains used in the scam. Make sure to include the keywords “NFTHack” in the report.
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