The scammer has converted the stolen assets into Bitcoin and Ethereum.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) unknowingly sent over $50,000 in Tether’s USDT to a crypto scammer, according to an Aug. 24 Forbes report.
The scammer tricked the DEA into sending 55,000 USDT to their wallet instead of the U.S. Marshal address for which the funds were meant.
According to the report, the DEA had seized 500k USDT from two Binance accounts in May. The funds were linked to narcotics proceeds and, upon seizing them, moved them to secure addresses under its control.
However, the scam happened when it tried to transfer the funds to the U.S. Marshal, an agency responsible for holding and selling all crypto proceeds seized by the U.S. government.
Ahead of the significant transfer, the DEA conducted a trial transaction of $45.36 to the U.S. Marshal Service’s address. According to Forbes, upon detecting this transaction, the scammer promptly generated an address that closely resembled that of the U.S. agency. This deceptive address shared identical initial five characters and final four characters with the legitimate U.S. Marshal’s address.
The scammer then proceeded to airdrop an unnamed token into the DEA address, giving the impression that the Marshal’s address returned the funds. The agency fell for the trick, sending over 55,000 USDT to the wallet.
The U.S. Marshals quickly notified the mistake and alerted the DEA, but it was too late to recover the funds as the scammer had already converted them to Ethereum (ETH) and Bitcoin (BTC). This meant that Tether could not freeze the funds.
However, the FBI and DEA investigators are still tracing the funds and have traced the address to two Binance addresses.
The law enforcement agencies have now contacted Google with a search warrant, hoping to get information on the account’s linked Gmail addresses.
Forbes reported that none of the federal agencies involved in the case commented on their investigations. But the scammer, if identified, would likely face prosecution.
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Author: Oluwapelumi Adejumo