BOSTON – The United States Attorney’s Office filed a civil forfeiture action to recover cryptocurrency alleged to be proceeds of an online investment fraud scheme targeting victims in Massachusetts and elsewhere. The government seeks to forfeit 81,547 USDT (Tether) and 87,321 BEL (Bella Protocol) traceable to the fraud, which has been seized by the government. Tether is a unit of cryptocurrency that is equivalent in value to one U.S. dollar. Bella Protocol is also a cryptocurrency with a value that fluctuates with the market.
In April 2022, a federal investigation began into an investment fraud scheme that targeted a Massachusetts victim. As detailed in court documents, the victim had been contacted in March 2022 through LinkedIn by an alleged scammer. After further communications in Chinese through another application, the victim was lulled into making what she believed was a legitimate cryptocurrency investment. The victim was induced to download an application that appeared to be a legitimate cryptocurrency platform but was allegedly fraudulent, and then invested money through that fraudulent site.
During the investigation, a second victim in California was identified, who was also allegedly lulled into investing in a fraudulent cryptocurrency scheme after an initial contact through LinkedIn.
A portion of the funds the victims invested to another cryptocurrency wallet was traced, resulting in the seizure of 81,547 USDT and 87,321 BEL.
It is a violation of federal law to use wire communications as part of a scheme to defraud or to obtain money or property by means of false or fraudulent pretenses. A civil forfeiture action allows third parties to assert claims to property, which must be resolved before the property can be forfeited to the United States and returned to victims.
This is the second civil forfeiture action the U.S. Attorney’s Office has filed seeking to forfeit cryptocurrency traced to an online investment fraud scheme targeting Massachusetts victims.
Members of the public who believe they are victims of a cybercrime – including cryptocurrency scams, romance scams, investment scams, and BEC fraud scams – should contact USAMA.CyberTip@usdoj.gov
United States Attorney Rachael S. Rollins and Andrew Murphy, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Secret Service, Boston Field Office, made the announcement today. Assistant U.S. Attorney Carol E. Head, Chief of Rollins’ Asset Recovery Unit, is prosecuting the civil forfeiture action.
The details contained in the civil forfeiture complaint are allegations. The United States Attorney’s Office has not filed a corresponding criminal action on the matter.