The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) says it has seized bitcoin worth millions of dollars from overseas scammers targeting the elderly. The scammers posed as members of U.S. law enforcement agencies and tricked the victims into transferring money to them for “safekeeping.”
FBI Says It Has Seized Bitcoin From Scammers Overseas
The U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut and the Acting Special Agent in Charge of the New Haven Division of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) announced Friday that bitcoin and other digital assets have been seized in connection with a fraudulent scheme targeting the elderly. They detailed:
An investigation of a fraud scheme targeting vulnerable victims has resulted in the forfeiture of approximately 151 bitcoins, as well as other digital assets.
The case is being investigated by the FBI, the U.S. Secret Service, and the U.S. Marshals Service. At the time of writing, the value of the allegedly seized bitcoin totaled approximately $3.5 million.
The fraud, which occurred in approximately October 2020, involved overseas individuals pretending to be members of U.S. law enforcement agencies. They targeted “vulnerable victims, including first-generation U.S. citizens and elderly persons,” the authorities said. Through phone calls, they told the victims that their identity had been compromised. After gaining the victims’ trust, the scammers requested transfers of money for “safekeeping” with the promise of returning the funds plus interest. The announcement details:
Once the overseas individuals had access to the victims’ money, they moved the money through multiple bank accounts and converted the money to digital currency in the form of bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.
“Law enforcement investigators traced the victims’ money through the various accounts and identified a digital wallet holding bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies that had been purchased with the victims’ money,” the announcement adds. The authorities noted that the overseas scammers remain at large.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office has been granted “a civil asset forfeiture seizure warrant for the digital wallet,” the announcement clarifies, elaborating:
The U.S. Attorney’s Office used the civil asset forfeiture procedure because the digital assets constituted the proceeds of wire fraud.