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December 13, 2023
U.S. seizes $500,000 of crypto linked to ‘pig butchering’ scam

Security authorities in the United States have seized digital currency worth around $500,000 from an account linked to a Chinese businessman.

The man was cited in a report into crypto fraud emanating from southeast Asia, according to a Reuters report. The name of the individual is Wang Yicheng, who was named on the crypto account which was at the centre of the probe by US Secret Service officials.

It was reported that a ‘pig butchering’ scam had led to a full-scale investigation. This type of activity sees unsuspecting members of the public duped online into investing in crypto schemes that are not genuine.

US authorities were able to capture crypto worth around half a million dollars in June, from an account in the name of Yicheng with funds stolen from a victim in Massachusetts traced back to his account.

Crime gangs involved in crypto scam

This came after Wang Yicheng was implicated in a Reuters investigation last month when he was identified as a businessman with links to the high echelons of law enforcement in Thailand, in his role as vice president for a Chinese trade group.

The findings revealed that a crypto account in the name of Yicheng had received more than $90 million in transactions, with at least $9.1m of that figure originating from a crypto wallet that was reportedly linked to pig butchering, following analysis from blockchain specialists, TRM Labs.

One California victim had been conned out of $2.7 million, whilst another Massachusetts individual had been deceived out of $478,000 worth of crypto in what appears to be a highly elaborate sophisticated operation.

US law enforcement indicated that the Yicheng-named account had been opened in 2020, in an affidavit from Secret Service Special Agent Heidi Robles who was quoted in the filing to have stated, “This level of activity is indicative of an account controlled by a criminal organization for the purpose of laundering stolen funds.”

Crypto scams are a rising problem. In 2022, crypto scam losses in the US were estimated to be nearly double the amount reported the previous year. Losses skyrocketed from $1.2 billion to $2.3 billion- an 88% increase.

Meanwhile, the trade group that featured in the Reuters investigation has distanced itself from Wang Yicheng.

The Thai-Asia Economic Exchange Trade Association stated that it did not support any illegal activity and they were no longer in contact with the individual, nor was he still part of their group. They insisted that Yicheng’s personal affairs had “nothing to do with the trade association”.

Featured image: Pexels

The post U.S. seizes $500,000 of crypto linked to ‘pig butchering’ scam appeared first on ReadWrite.


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