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25 Feb 2024

Scott Chipolina, The Financial Times

Myanmar: Chinese company involved in online scam swindles $100m in cryptocurrency via Tether

"$100mn in crypto payments traced to Myanmar-based ‘scammers’" 25 February 2024

A single company operating from a compound in Myanmar has swindled over $100mn from victims in less than two years, according to analysis by blockchain analytics firm Chainalysis and US anti-slavery group International Justice Mission.

Chainalysis said it had tracked digital coins issued by Tether, one of the world’s largest cryptocurrency platforms, that were used in so-called “pig butchering” scams in which false romantic relationships are engineered in order to gain a victim’s trust.

It said Tether tokens had also been used to make payments to a company based in a compound known as KK Park in eastern Myanmar from the families of trafficked workers...

The analysis found that the single Chinese company was able to pull over $100mn in cryptocurrency into just two digital wallets...Chainalysis and IJM declined to identify the Chinese company in order to protect workers there who were victims of human trafficking...

The UN’s office on drugs and crime warned last month that Tether had emerged as one of the leading payment methods for money launderers and fraudsters in south-east Asia...

Tether said it was working with authorities around the world to prevent the illicit use of its token and had frozen $276mn used in pig butchering-related scams...