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Crypto criminals caught in New Taipei but funds still missing

Two suspects apprehended after absconding with Tether stablecoin

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Zuoying High Speed Railway Station was the scene of crypto crime on Jan. 30. (CNA photo)

Zuoying High Speed Railway Station was the scene of crypto crime on Jan. 30. (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Police arrested two suspects late on Feb. 5 alleged to be involved in a crypto crime involving the Tether stablecoin (USDT) which they absconded during an in-person transaction at Kahsiung’s Zuoying High Speed Rail Station.

The original crime involved two suspects who received a crypto transfer and then ran off without paying or completing the transaction on Jan. 30. According to the police, the victim, a 31-year-old woman surnamed Feng (馮), met a man surnamed Hsu (許) who told her he would exchange cash for crypto in a transfer worth a market value of NT$9 million (US$270,000), according to the Liberty Times report.

After Feng transferred the crypto into a virtual wallet owned by Hsu, he pretended not to receive it, and told Feng he needed to visit a nearby bathroom in the railway station when he in fact fled the scene by taxi. When he failed to return, Feng knew something was amiss and contacted the police. More details about this encounter are here.

After the railway police station received the report, a special investigative team was formed which reviewed hundreds of monitors to analyze surveillance footage, ultimately identifying 23-year-old Hsu and his accomplice, a 22-year-old male surnamed Luo (羅).

On Feb. 5, the two were apprehended in New Taipei City’s Zhonghe District. The suspects claimed innocence, stating that they were simply acting on orders to collect the crypto from the victim.

The police discovered the NT$9 million in crypto assets had already been transferred abroad by a suspected criminal group. Police believe the suspects they apprehended are simply “mules” employed by a larger fraud group.

The case continues to be investigated in greater depth. After a hearing on the evening of Feb. 6, the two were transferred to the Qiaotou District Prosecutor's Office for investigation in accordance with the Money Laundering Control Act.

The railway police reminds the public that crypto can be kept in a cold wallet with a private key password to reduce the risk of fraud. Should an incident occur, it should be reported to the police as soon as possible to facilitate tracking the flow of crypto funds.