US DOJ Unveils Alleged $80M Crypto Laundering Operation

The United States Justice Department (DOJ) has brought charges against four individuals for their purported involvement in laundering millions of dollars originating from cryptocurrency investment scams.

The accused individuals include Lu Zhang of Alhambra, California, Justin Walker of Cypress, California, Hailong Zhu of Naperville, Illinois, and Joseph Wong of Rosemead, California. Aged between 31 and 40, these individuals are alleged to have laundered over $80 million in digital assets derived from various fraudulent crypto schemes.

The seven-count indictment outlines charges of conspiracy to launder proceeds from crypto investment scams and fraudulent activities, such as pig butchering schemes. The accused allegedly orchestrated the movement of funds through shell companies and bank accounts, both locally and internationally.

DOJ Targets Pig Butchering Schemes

Pig butchering schemes involve scammers initiating romantic relationships on social media platforms to exploit victims financially. Professing love and affection, the scammers propose opportunities for high profits through crypto investments. Despite appearing legitimate, the investment platforms are linked to accounts controlled by scammers, leading to substantial losses for victims.

The alleged fraudsters, operating a pig-butchering syndicate, reportedly amassed over $80 million from unsuspecting victims in at least 284 transactions. The accused face charges including conspiracy to commit money laundering, concealment of money laundering, and international money laundering.

Zhang and Walker have been arrested, making their initial court appearances. If found guilty, the duo could be sentenced to up to 20 years in prison. The U.S. law enforcement agencies are intensifying their efforts against crypto romance scams, seizing around $112 million in cryptocurrency earlier this year from accounts linked to pig butchering activities in various regions.