US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) mistakenly transferred $55,000 to a crypto scammer, exposing vulnerabilities even amidst high-security operations.
The scam was uncovered when the US Marshals Service detected the incident. However, the funds were already removed.
According to Forbes, the agency seized over $500,000 in Tether stablecoin in May. The amount was derived from two Binance accounts that had aroused suspicions of being conduits for the illicit proceeds of the drugs trade. The details of this operation were unveiled through a search warrant that Forbes first reported on.
Following the seizure, the funds were transferred to accounts under the control of the DEA and stored within a hardware-based wallet called Trezor. Subsequently, these assets were moved into a highly secure facility, adding another layer of protection.
However, amidst these operations, a scammer watched the blockchain. They noticed when the DEA initiated a trial transaction by dispatching $45.36 worth of Tether to the US Marshals Service. This transaction was a routine part of the forfeiture processing, yet it caught the scammer’s interest.
Afterward, the scammer established a cryptocurrency address that mirrored the first five and last four characters of the Marshals’ account. As a result, the DEA did not check the address properly and believed it to be the Marshal’s service address, transferring the funds there.