US Charges Two Chinese Nationals in $73 Million Cryptocurrency Fraud

US charges two Chinese nationals in $73M crypto fraud, accusing them of laundering funds through a global scam. Learn more about the case and charges.

May 17, 2024 - 12:51
May 17, 2024 - 12:51
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US Charges Two Chinese Nationals in $73 Million Cryptocurrency Fraud
US Charges Two Chinese Nationals in $73 Million Cryptocurrency Fraud

U.S. authorities have charged two Chinese nationals with laundering $73 million from victims in a cryptocurrency scam, the Justice Department announced on Friday.

Yicheng Zhang was arrested in Los Angeles on Thursday after an indictment was unsealed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California. Daren Li, who holds dual citizenship in China and St. Kitts and Nevis, was detained at the Atlanta airport in April.

The two men are accused of running a cryptocurrency investment scam known as "pig butchering," a fraudulent practice that has become a billion-dollar industry worldwide. According to the indictment, Zhang and Li instructed their accomplices to set up U.S. bank accounts using shell companies. They then tricked victims into depositing money into these accounts. The funds were laundered through U.S. financial institutions and eventually sent to bank accounts in the Bahamas.

"Fraud in the cryptocurrency markets can take many forms and operate from many places, but its perpetrators are not beyond the reach of the law," said U.S. Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco.

Zhang and Li are charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering and six counts of international money laundering. If found guilty, they could each face up to 20 years in prison for each count, according to the Justice Department.

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