Taiwan’s Criminal Bureau’s Electronic Investigation Team has cracked down on a significant cryptocurrency money laundering operation, unearthing a staggering $320 million in USDT (Tether) transactions. This criminal network, orchestrated by a merchant known as Qiu, spanned across multiple Southeast Asian countries, including Malaysia, the Philippines, and Hong Kong.
The investigation initially commenced last year when the Electronic Investigation Team uncovered a case involving fraudulent mobile software linked to Taishin Securities. As they followed the money trail, their pursuit led them to a complex web of deceit masterminded by Qiu, a 40-year-old individual suspected to be the linchpin behind this intricate scheme.
The operation’s methodology was astutely crafted, with victims’ funds passing through several shell accounts before reaching Qiu. Once under his control, the funds were converted into cryptocurrencies, effectively concealing their source and facilitating money laundering. Qiu profited from a 1% commission on each transaction. His frequent overseas travel, particularly to gambling and fraud groups, further raised suspicions about his involvement in other illicit activities.
Upon gathering sufficient evidence, the prosecutor’s office took decisive action, arresting Qiu on June 13 as he returned to Taiwan from Taoyuan Airport. During the investigation, the police seized Qiu’s mobile phone, which contained vital digital evidence. Luxury items belonging to Qiu, such as a Lamborghini URUS, a Lexus LM, three Apple watches valued at a million yuan, a substantial sum of 210,000 yuan in cash, laptops, debit cards, passbooks, and controlled substances like coffee pods and K-tamine were also confiscated.
Qiu’s cryptocurrency wallet had processed an astounding 320 million Tether (USDT) coins since mid-February of the previous year, with these tokens holding a converted market value exceeding 10.48 billion yuan. Furthermore, Qiu was found to have handled 2,166,177 illegally obtained Tether coins, valued at approximately 70 million yuan. This money laundering operation set a new record for the amount of illicit funds detected and seized by the Electronic Investigation Team.
The case also involved three other individuals: a 25-year-old foreign affairs officer surnamed Liao, a 30-year-old operator named Chen, and a 31-year-old named Huang, all identified as accomplices in both fraud and money laundering activities following a thorough police investigation.