An unknown scammer has deceived the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) – the agency’s employees accidentally sent him $55,000 in cryptocurrency themselves. The attacker, reckoning with the inattention of his victims, made a transfer to a wallet with the address of replacing several characters.
In May 2023, the DEA withdrew more than $500,000 worth of funds in stablecoin Tether USD (USDT) from two accounts on cryptocurrency exchange Binance. At one point, he noticed that a transfer was made from that wallet to one of the Department of Justice’s departments – the Marshals Service. The amount was only $45.36, which means the transaction was likely a test transaction.
Then the attacker created his own cryptocurrency wallet, the address of which partially resembled the address of the Marshals Service wallet – the first five and last four characters matched. He assumed that when sending it later without verification, the department’s employees would copy the address of a fake, and not a real wallet. The calculation turned out to be correct and the scammer was sent $55,000 worth of cryptocurrency.
When the DEA spotted an error, they contacted Tether with a request to freeze the funds. But it was too late: by that time, the attacker had already withdrawn and converted the money. It was previously known that in 2022 cryptocurrencies worth 11.5 billion US dollars would be lost due to hackers and scammers.