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The feds have created their own cryptocurrency wallet so they can seize crypto money they claim was fraudulently obtained from a Brookline woman

A Brookline woman may have lost more than $300,000 in a fraudulent cryptocurrency investment scheme that may have run short of Taiwan, but the US attorney’s office in Boston says it has commenced a procedure to recover $73,586 of the money after tracing it to an account on a crypto trading place.

The “money” is now in a cryptocurrency “wallet” set up by the Secret Service as prosecutors permanently take the cash and return it to its original owner. Authorities can show the value of the online currency because it was invested in Tether, a “stablecoin” where each unit is worth $1 in greenbacks. Other cryptocurrencies have more of a stock market feel and their value can go up or down on a daily basis.

An affidavit from a Secret Service agent (link below) describes both how the cryptocurrencies work and the fraud that was allegedly committed against the woman, with the approximately $74,000 ultimately being attributed to a Binance account, a crypto trading website. The destination of the rest of his money, however, was not described.

The agent says the victim, identified in the affidavit as WQ, contacted the Secret Service in January, “providing information indicating that she was the victim of a cryptocurrency trading scam.”

WQ explained that she was initially contacted on October 20, 2021 by someone named “Mingfeng QIAN” via a LinkedIn request she received via email. A subsequent LinkedIn search was conducted for the person who contacted WQ with negative results.

After logging on to LinkedIn, the individual(s) posing as QIAN then began communicating with WQ via two messaging apps, Whatsapp and Line, installed on WQ’s iPhone 11 mobile phone. WQ received communications about these messaging apps from QIAN using a specific phone number. WQ said all posts with QIAN were typed in Chinese. WQ said she understood Chinese and spoke Chinese as her native language.

QIAN told WQ that trading cryptocurrency is an easy way to make a profit. WQ said it had never bought or sold cryptocurrencies before it started communicating with QIAN.

WQ provided investigators with screenshots of its communications with QIAN. Screenshots show messages typed in a language that appears to be Chinese, and WQ provided an English translation. In a post from October 27, 2021, translated by WQ, QIAN told him, “The market looks good recently. 15-20% profit is not a problem if you follow my instructions.” In a November 11, 2021 post, QIAN said, “I’ve been doing this for 7 years, never lost any money.”

As evidenced by WQ’s messages and statements, between November 12, 2021 and January 19, 2022, the person(s) identifying as QIAN instructed WQ to transfer approximately 303,712.96 USDT [Tether units] to cryptocurrency wallets. WQ said it followed QIAN’s instructions and opened an account at cryptocurrency exchange OKEX (OKEX was renamed OKX in January 2022)

Then “Qian” told her that she needed a specific trading application, called TMS. WQ searched both Apple and Google app stores but couldn’t find it. “Qian” then told her to go to the TMS website, where she would find links. And, the affidavit continues, it did – only what looked like Apple and Google application links were actually direct links to applications hosted on this site, rather than software stores, which meant that they were not subject to verification by Apple and Google.

After WQ downloaded the Apple app, she alerted “Qian”, who replied, “There will be good opportunities next week, if we add more capital, we can earn more
profit, hundreds of thousands of dollars is no problem.”

WQ said that on January 7, 2022, she tried to withdraw money from the TMS app, but received a message from the app that she should contact “Tmsfin.com” customer service. On that date, she used the TMS application on her iPhone 11 to communicate with “Tmsfin.com” customer service and was informed that she had to pay tax on the income from her account. These instructions caused WQ to make the last (out of 9) USDT transfers from its account at OKEX to the destination wallet address provided by “Tmsfin.com” customer service. WQ made this transfer, but still couldn’t withdraw money from the TMS app.

The affidavit continues that the Secret Service identified the owner of the Binance account to someone with a Taiwanese passport whose name “is known to law enforcement.” A warrant in the case was mailed to a person identified only as CHH with an address in New Taipei City, Taiwan.

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