A new academic paper found “pig butchering” scams—in which victims invest increasing sums in supposedly legitimate virtual currency enterprises before being conned out of their money—claimed $75 billion since January 2020.

About the Study: As reported by Bloomberg, University of Texas researchers found $15 billion had come from five exchanges typically used by victims in Western countries, including Coinbase. The study also found that the scammers typically converted their collected funds into the Tether stablecoin.

FinCEN Alert: The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network last year issued an alert on the practice that explains the scam, provides red flags to help financial institutions identify and report related suspicious activity, and reminds financial institutions of their reporting requirements under the Bank Secrecy Act.

ICBA Advocacy: In a recent letter to FinCEN, ICBA noted that bad actors who engage in “pig butchering” scams increasingly use crypto mixers to obscure key details in crypto transactions. It called on FinCEN to do more to combat mixer-enabled crime, including considering the roles played by the wider crypto ecosystem, especially decentralized finance exchanges.