The US arrests two Chinese citizens in connection with a $73 million cryptocurrency fraud

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(Reuters) – U.S. authorities have charged two Chinese nationals with a cryptocurrency fraud that laundered at least $73 million from defrauded victims, the Justice Department said on Friday.

U.S. officials arrested Yicheng Zhang in Los Angeles, according to an indictment unsealed later that day in U.S. District Court in the Central District of California. Daren Li, a dual citizen of China and St. Kitts and Nevis, was arrested at the Atlanta airport in April.

The United States accused them of involvement in a cryptocurrency investment scam known as pig slaughter that has become a global industry worth billions of dollars.

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The defendants allegedly instructed co-conspirators to open U.S. bank accounts in the name of shell companies.

Victims were tricked online into depositing money into these accounts – funds that were then laundered through US financial institutions into bank accounts in the Bahamas.

“While cryptocurrency fraud takes many forms and hides in many remote locations, perpetrators are not beyond the reach of the law,” Assistant U.S. Attorney General Lisa Monaco said in a statement.

Li and Zhang were charged with conspiracy to commit money laundering and six counts of international money laundering. If convicted, the defendants face a maximum of 20 years in prison on each charge, the Justice Department said.

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