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U.S. Attorney Dena J. King Announces Return of 12.1 Stolen BTC to an Elderly Victim

The U.S. Attorney announced the forfeiture and return of 12.1 BTC.

The victim is an elderly resident of Ashville who was looted off his life savings and retirement funds.

Quick take:

  • Fraudsters deceived the victim, impersonating someone from the “Office of the Inspector General.”
  • The impersonators also looted the elderly victim’s personal and financial information.

U.S. Attorney Dena J. King revealed in a press release on the United States Department of Justice website the forfeiture and return of bitcoin stolen from an elderly Ashville victim. He was the victim of a government imposter scam worth 12.1 BTC.

How did the imposters pull off their act?

It all started when he received an anonymous call from the fraudsters, likely from overseas, on August 2021. They pretended to be someone from the “Office of the Inspector General” and tricked the victim. 

The fraudsters made him believe that someone had used his personal information to facilitate a drug trafficking and money laundering scheme. They also informed him that they would freeze all his assets.

One of the fraudsters, who identified himself as Agent James Hoffman, asked the victim to transfer all his funds to a government account till he was proven innocent. The victim was also asked to reveal all his personal and financial information.

The imposters directed the victim to purchase Bitcoin through Coinbase global, worth hundreds of thousands of dollars of his retirement funds.

12.164699 Bitcoin, worth approximately $574,766, was transferred to the fraudster’s account. The victim made the transaction on August 31, 2021.

Collective efforts from Coinbase and the FBI helped to track down the transaction. They marked the transaction as a possible elder financial fraud. After necessary investigations and proceedings, the seized crypto was relinquished to the United States, which will be returned to the victim soon.

Growing imposter scams

“Government imposter scams are pervasive and can be financially and psychologically devastating for those who fall prey. Thankfully, in this instance, the fraud was detected quickly, and the stolen funds will be returned to the victim. Unfortunately, the majority of these cases do not share a similar ending,” said U.S. Attorney King.

She added that imposters wouldn't be allowed to keep criminal proceeds and that law enforcement will ensure that it does its best to catch the culprits. Public awareness and education are the keys when protecting elderly adults from falling for such scams.

Some of the common scams on the loose that targets seniors include lottery phone scams, grandparent scams, romance scams, government imposter scams. Etc.

As part of its Elder Justice Initiative, the U.S. Attorney's Office investigates and prosecutes these scams, educates older adults on avoiding becoming victims of financial fraud, and promotes better coordination with law enforcement.

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