Justice Department seizes over $112 million in fraudulent crypto scheme

Apr 4, 2023, 4:05 AM

In this photo illustration, the Bitcoin logo is seen displayed on a mobile phone screen. (Photo Ill...

In this photo illustration, the Bitcoin logo is seen displayed on a mobile phone screen. (Photo Illustration by Idrees Abbas/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

(Photo Illustration by Idrees Abbas/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

PHOENIX — The Department of Justice announced Monday that it seized over $112 million linked to cryptocurrency investment scams in Arizona, California and Idaho.

In the scams, the suspects made long-term relationships with the victims online and enticed them to invest in fraudulent trading platforms.

Instead, the money was sent to the scammers’ crypto addresses and accounts.

“Transnational criminal organizations are combining confidence scams with technological savvy to swindle Americans out of their hard-earned funds,” Assistant Attorney General Kenneth A. Polite Jr. said in the press release.

“These particularly vicious frauds – where scammers carefully cultivate relationships with their victims over time – have devastated families and cost individuals their life savings. Now that we have seized this virtual currency, we will seek to swiftly return it to victims.”

The FBI’s Internet Crimes Complaint Center reported $3.31 billion in investment fraud losses, an increase of 183% from 2021 ($2.57 billion).

The highest number of reported scams are between the ages of 30 and 49. In a term commonly referred to as “pig butchering,” scammers attempt to reach people through social networking, online communications platforms, dating websites and phone calls and text messages that are meant to appear to have been misdialed.

Some scams can occur over months, according to the Justice Department.

“Financial fraud schemes like these demonstrate the great lengths criminals will take to swindle innocent victims out of their money,” Assistant Director of the FBI’s Criminal Investigative Division Luis Quesada said in the release.

“We continue to see these schemes evolve and provide new avenues for criminals to exploit. Today’s announcement should serve as reminder of the FBI’s unwavering commitment, alongside our federal and international law enforcement partners, to investigating and pursuing criminal actors who seek to defraud the American public. There is no place beyond the reach of the FBI.”

If you or someone you know is a victim, visit the FBI website, contact your local FBI field office or call 1-800-CALL-FBI.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Pass it along to the KTAR News team here.

Arizona News

(Pixabay Photo)...

Associated Press

Oath Keeper from Arizona sentenced for role in Jan. 6 riot at US Capitol

Edward Vallejo, a U.S. Army veteran from Phoenix, oversaw a “Quick Reaction Force” at a Virginia hotel that was prepared to deploy an arsenal of weapons into Washington if needed, authorities say.

22 hours ago

FILE - Water from the Colorado River diverted through the Central Arizona Project fills an irrigati...

Brandon Gray

Governor Hobbs unveils groundwater model, announces $40M investment in water conservation

Arizona Governor Katie Hobbs unveiled a groundwater model and the Arizona Department of Water Resources' latest study the state's conditions.

22 hours ago

Desiree Rivas. (Phoenix Police Department)...

Brandon Gray

‘We just want justice’: Family pleads for information on teen’s murder at Phoenix graduation party

The family of Desiree Rivas is asking anyone with information about the shooting that left the cheerleader dead to contact authorities.

22 hours ago

Interstate 10 was widened between Verrado Way and State Route 85 in Buckeye, Arizona, as part of an...

Kevin Stone

$82M widening project on Interstate 10 in West Valley nears completion

West Valley drivers have more room to maneuver as an $82 million Interstate 10 widening project nears the finish line.

22 hours ago

(Phoenix Fan Fusion Photo)...

Phoenix Fan Fusion returning to the Valley this weekend

Pop culture convention Phoenix Fan Fusion takes place this weekend, bringing Valley enthusiasts together to meet creators and each other.

22 hours ago

Maricopa County Supervisor Bill Gates, shown speaking to reporters on Nov. 10, 2022, in Phoenix, Ar...

Kevin Stone

Maricopa County Supervisor Bill Gates not seeking reelection in 2024

Maricopa County Supervisor Bill Gates announced Thursday that he won’t seek reelection to a third term in 2024.

22 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

(Photo: OCD & Anxiety Treatment Center)...

OCD & Anxiety Treatment Center

Here’s what you need to know about OCD and where to find help

It's fair to say that most people know what obsessive-compulsive spectrum disorders generally are, but there's a lot more information than meets the eye about a mental health diagnosis that affects about one in every 100 adults in the United States.

(Desert Institute for Spine Care in Arizona Photo)...

Desert Institute for Spine Care in Arizona

5 common causes for chronic neck pain

Neck pain can debilitate one’s daily routine, yet 80% of people experience it in their lives and 20%-50% deal with it annually.

(Photo by Michael Matthey/picture alliance via Getty Images)...

Cox Communications

Valley Boys & Girls Club uses esports to help kids make healthy choices

KTAR’s Community Spotlight focuses on the Boys & Girls Club of the Valley and the work to incorporate esports into children's lives.

Justice Department seizes over $112 million in fraudulent crypto scheme