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US Authorities Arrest Two Scammers in $73 Million Crypto Scam

The law enforcement agency in the United States has taken cryptocurrency scammers into custody. According to a new report, the scammers are charged with processing illegal crypto transactions valued at $73 million. The US Department of Justice has shared that scammers used stablecoin USDT to transfer illicit funds.

Further details of the matter indicated that scammers managed to entrap target investors with the promise of ability to sending millions of dollars to US bank accounts. These funds allowed the scammers to launder money later.

As per a statement issued on 17th May 2024, law enforcement agents have taken Daren Li into custody from Atlanta airport at Georgia on 12th April 2024.

Another criminal apprehended by the police is Yicheng Zhang who was caught from Los Angeles on Thursday, 16th May 2024. Authorities issued a legal notice against the pair that charged both apprehended scammers with playing an active role in the illegal process.

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The indictment issued against the criminals was kept unsealed at California court till 16th May 2024.

US Department of Justice to Begin Trial of Crypto Scammers

 At present government prosecutors are running a case against the apprehended criminals in court. The details of the lawsuit have revealed that Zhang and Li, the named defendants in the case spearheaded a pig butchering scam as a means to launder money.

The fraudsters were able to gain the trust of their targeted victims and managed to convince them to invest substantial funds in the fraudulent scheme.

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However, once the scammer got hold of the funds from their victims they disappeared without a trace. As per prosecutors, the scammers also colluded with open bank accounts in the United States under false pretenses.

For context, it is important to note that the practice of opening a bank account in the name of a non-existence business is called shell companies.

The scammers used these shell company accounts to transfer millions of USD to various US-based bank accounts. In the next phase, the scammers used the funds stored in shell accounts to launder money.

DOJ officials told media that the funds were sent to several local and international bank accounts. DOJ briefing on the matter further indicated that the fraudsters managed to transact around $73 million by misusing various financial firms in Bahamas and converted funds into USDT.

DOJ Investigators Detect Crypto Wallets with Illegal Funds

The DOJ investigations also indicated a cryptocurrency wallet that contained funds in the form of cryptocurrencies stablecoin containing more than $341 million.

Both apprehended criminals are charged with 6 counts of international money laundering and conspiracy to commit money laundering. If the prosecution manages to get a guilty verdict against the criminals they can face up to 20 years for every single count of legal violation.

In total, the criminal in this case is looking at a potential 140 years of jail time. Speaking on the matter, Deputy Governor, Lisa Monaco talked about the obstacles in proving the charges against the alleged criminals.

Pig Butchering Scams

However, she maintained the aim of the prosecution to bring the perpetrators to justice. Pig butchering scams have become one of the most popular types of among cyber criminals last year.

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As per statistics issued by DOJ, the increasing frequency and instances of this type of fraud has continued to ring alarm bells among law enforcement agencies. Regulators have increased their efforts to trace and apprehend crypto criminals.

At the same time, law enforcement agencies have also continued to safeguard US investors and secure digital assets.

Another report reveals that investigators got involved into the hacking of WBTC wallet. However, the stealing incident concluded on a happy note when thieves ended up returning $71 million in stolen WBTC to their original owners. The funds were returned as a result of investigators joining the case that ended up apprehending a malicious hacker who was initially portrayed as a white hat hacker.


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Hassan Mehmood (Saudi Arabia)

Hassan is currently working as a news reporter for Tokenhell. He is a professional content writer with 2 years of experience. He has a degree in journalism.

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