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U.S. Seizes Cryptocurrency Connected to Southeast Asia Investment Fraud

The United States government has confiscated digital currency valued at approximately $500,000 from an account linked to a Chinese individual implicated in a Reuters investigation focused on a cryptocurrency investment scam originating from Southeast Asia.

U.S. authorities revealed that the seized crypto was associated with a fraudulent scheme known as “pig butchering,” a type of crypto-investment fraud targeting victims through online manipulation.

The U.S. Secret Service conducted the seizure in June from an account under the name of Wang Yicheng, as stated in a federal court filing in Massachusetts. The funds were traced back to initial money stolen from a victim in Massachusetts, indicating Wang’s involvement in the scam.

A Reuters report published in November detailed Wang’s connections as a businessman in Thailand and highlighted his association with over $90 million transferred to a crypto account bearing his name. Investigations by U.S. blockchain analysis firm TRM Labs suggested that a significant portion of these funds, at least $9.1 million, were linked to pig-butchering scams.

The article referenced cases of individuals who fell victim to the scam, including a California man defrauded of $2.7 million and a Massachusetts resident deceived of around $478,000 in crypto. Both cases reportedly saw funds channeled into accounts associated with Wang.

The U.S. court filing aligned with Reuters’ findings, matching the account details highlighted in the report, including the owner’s identity, account location, and associated crypto wallet address.

According to U.S. authorities, Wang’s account received over $90 million since its establishment in 2020, indicative of criminal organization control used for laundering stolen funds, as stated in the affidavit by U.S. Secret Service Special Agent Heidi Robles.

Wang did not respond to requests for comment, while Thai law enforcement declined to provide a statement. The trade association Wang represented distanced itself from his actions, stating that Wang was no longer part of the group and emphasizing no involvement with his personal or business affairs.

The civil forfeiture action seeks court approval to take possession of assets believed to be connected to the fraudulent activities. However, no criminal charges have been filed by the United States related to this case, as per the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Massachusetts.

Acting U.S. Attorney Joshua Levy highlighted the use of civil forfeiture to reclaim funds associated with cryptocurrency fraud schemes, affirming law enforcement’s adaptability in addressing such criminal activities.

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