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Delaware DOJ goes after cryptocurrency scammers

Delaware Public Media

The Delaware Department of Justice announced it has frozen funds in accounts containing fraudulently-obtained cryptocurrency as part of a scam dubbed “pig butchering.”

The name comes from the way scammers groom people over time into investing in or “fattening up” crypto holdings, only to be scammed out of their investments.

The state’s Investor Protection Unit has frozen funds from 23 individuals on various crypto exchanges it has deemed suspicious.

“Usually there’s a smaller initial investment while the victim is testing out the waters. They are led to believe that is going well. In some instances they may be led to fake websites that purport to track their money,” Investor Protection Unit Director Jill Lazar said.

She said the investigation started after two Delawareans filed complaints.

“They think they are cleaning up so they invest more. Once the well is dry and they try to make a withdrawal, the person they’re communicating with online disappears along with their investment.”

Pig butchering scams across the country are estimated to have cheated victims out of billions of dollars.

The state warns Delawareans should be extremely cautious of unknown people online claiming to make money with cryptocurrency.

Lazar said if something sounds too good be true, it probably is.

Mark Arehart is an award-winning reporter/producer. Before returning to Delaware, Arehart was a reporter for WKSU and Ideastream Public Media in Northeast Ohio. He previously hosted Morning Edition and covered the arts scene for Delaware Public Media. He has worked for KNKX in Seattle, Kansas Public Radio, and KYUK in Bethel, Alaska.