U.S. cracks down on $73 million crypto fraud

  • Zhang and Li set up shell companies to open U.S. bank accounts, tricking victims into investing money in fake opportunities.
  • Zhang was arrested in Los Angeles on Thursday, and Li was detained at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in April.
  • The United States seeks to prevent forthcoming cryptocurrency offences and safeguard investors against comparable fraudulent activities.

Two Chinese nationals have been charged by the U.S. Department of Justice for their involvement in a fraudulent scheme, known as a pig butchering scam, that laundered over $73 million through shell companies.

Scam operations

According to the indictment, Zhang and Li orchestrated a complex scheme using shell companies to open U.S. bank accounts. Victims were duped into depositing money into these accounts under the guise of legitimate investment opportunities. The funds were then laundered through various financial institutions before being transferred to bank accounts in the Bahamas, making the money trail difficult to trace.

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Apprehension details

The individuals, identified as Yicheng Zhang and Daren Li, were apprehended for their alleged roles in a scam known as “pig butchering.” This method involves deceiving victims into investing in fraudulent schemes. The Justice Department announced the arrests after unsealing the indictment in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

Yicheng Zhang was arrested in Los Angeles on Thursday, marking a significant step in the investigation. Daren Li, who holds dual citizenship in China and St. Kitts and Nevis, was detained at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in April. Their capture is the result of an extensive investigation into their activities.

Government’s stance

Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco emphasized the commitment of U.S. authorities to pursuing fraudsters in the crypto market. She stated, “While fraud in the crypto markets takes on many forms and hides in many far-off places, its perpetrators aren’t beyond the law’s reach.” The defendants could potentially face a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for each count, as per the Justice Department’s statement.

This development sends a strong message from the U.S. government about its stance on cryptocurrency fraud and its dedication to maintaining the security and integrity of the financial markets. By targeting high-profile fraudsters and employing international cooperation, the U.S. aims to deter future cryptocurrency crimes and protect investors from similar schemes.


Jinny Xu

Jinny Xu is an intern reporter at Blue Tech Wave specialising in Fintech and AI. She graduated from Chongqing Institute of Foreign Studies.Send tips to j.xu@btw.media.

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