Taiwan’s Largest Cryptocurrency Money Laundering Case Uncovered: 320 Million USDT Involved

Taiwan’s Criminal Investigation Bureau’s Cybercrime Unit recently made a significant breakthrough in the world of cryptocurrency crime, uncovering Taiwan’s largest cryptocurrency money laundering case to date. The case involves a staggering 320 million USDT (Tether). The suspects in this intricate operation would frequently travel to various Southeast Asian countries, including Hong Kong, the Philippines, and Malaysia, to collaborate with local fraud groups and facilitate money laundering.

The case began to unravel when the Cybercrime Unit was investigating a fraudulent mobile app associated with Taiwan New Securities that defrauded 19 victims of over 20 million NTD (New Taiwan Dollars). Prosecutor Zhong Zusheng, in collaboration with the Taichung City Sixth Police Precinct and the Taichung City Criminal Investigation Division’s Sixth Team, formed a special task force to track down the criminals behind this scam.

A water merchant with the last name Qiu in Taichung City, who handled 10.4 billion NTD worth of Tether (USDT), was brought in for investigation by the Criminal Investigation Bureau’s Cybercrime Unit. – Reporter: Chen Hongrui

Following the money trail, which involved multiple layers of fraudulent accounts, the investigators identified a key suspect, a 40-year-old individual with the last name Qiu, who was operating under the guise of a water merchant. Qiu’s modus operandi was to receive funds from these fraudulent accounts, convert them into virtual currencies, and then sell these currencies for cash. This elaborate process allowed him to obfuscate the flow of funds, effectively achieving money laundering objectives. Qiu would also take a 1% “commission” for his services.

In Taichung City, Qiu, a water merchant, managed 10.4 billion NTD in Tether (USDT) coins and had three AP watches seized, valued at over 3 million NTD. – Reported by Chen Hong-Rui
In Taichung City, a water merchant named Qiu managed a 104 billion NTD worth of Tether (USDT) and had his Lamborghini and Lexus, with a market value exceeding tens of millions, confiscated by the authorities. – Reporter Chen Hongrui

Intriguingly, Qiu frequently traveled to countries such as Hong Kong, the Philippines, and Malaysia, raising suspicions of potential ties with offshore gambling and fraud syndicates.

The investigation culminated in the arrest of Qiu on June 13th, as he was returning to Taiwan from Taoyuan International Airport. The authorities seized Qiu’s mobile phone and also brought him back to his residence. There, they confiscated a collection of high-end assets, including a Lamborghini Urus and a Lexus LM, each worth over 13 million NTD. Additionally, they seized three luxury watches valued at a million NTD each, 210,000 NTD in cash, laptops, financial cards, bankbooks, and illicit substances.

Digital forensic analysis of Qiu’s cryptocurrency wallet revealed that, from mid-February of the previous year until the moment of apprehension, he had handled an astonishing 320 million Tether coins, amounting to more than 1.04 billion NTD at market rates. A portion of these funds, approximately 7 million NTD, was connected to the illegal proceeds.

Qiu’s money laundering activities had set a new record in the Cybercrime Unit’s history, surpassing any previous findings in terms of scale and complexity.

As the investigation continues, authorities have also arrested three more individuals involved in the case, including a 25-year-old foreign affairs worker named Liao, a 30-year-old water purifier salesman named Chen, and a 31-year-old water purifier technician named Huang. The suspects are now facing charges related to fraud and money laundering, with Qiu being released on bail with a deposit of 100,000 NTD, Liao with 20,000 NTD, Chen facing restricted residency, and Huang without bail.

The investigation remains ongoing, with authorities expanding their efforts to trace the origin and flow of the illicit funds. This case serves as a stark reminder of the challenges and complexities that law enforcement agencies face in tackling cryptocurrency-related crimes.

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