Myanmar-based scammers stole $100m worth of crypto since 2022, Chainalysis says

Chainalysis report reveals Myanmar-based romance scammers amassing $100 million in crypto, underscoring the nexus between illicit activities and digital assets.

A criminal gang based in Myanmar has netted $100 million worth of crypto from victims over the past two years by exploiting pig butchering schemes, where scammers are tricking victims into fake relationships and convincing them to invest money into crypto.

According to a new report from Chainalysis, criminal gangs operating out of Myanmar, notably from the KK Park compound in the town of Myawaddy. The compound, reportedly housing thousands of trafficked workers, serves as a hub for romance scams, with victims subjected to brutal working conditions and coercive tactics to meet scamming quotas.

“The conditions these people face are horrible. They’re forced to work 12 or more hours per day, and if they don’t meet quotas on contacting potential scam victims, the gangs beat them, torture them, and even withhold food.”

Eric Heintz, global analyst at the Global Fusion Center of the International Justice Mission

Chainalysis’s examination of ransom addresses linked to pig butchering gangs uncovers significant sums of crypto, highlighting the profitability of these illicit activities.

On-chain activity of addresses associated with Myanmar criminal gangs | Source: Chainalysis

While recent efforts by law enforcement agencies have achieved some success in combating these crimes, the pervasive nature of the problem demands “urgency to solving the problem of romance scamming,” Chainalysis says.

In November 2023, the U.S. Department of Justice (DoJ) alongside Tether, seized $9 million worth of USDT from a criminal organization utilizing romance schemes to swindle unsuspecting American investors out of their crypto holdings. The DoJ said the assets rightfully belonged to over 70 victims of pig butchering. As of press time, Tether blacklisted nearly 1,300 crypto wallets associated with illicit activity, according to data from CCData.

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