Eleven charged in Brooklyn federal court for defrauding over 200 people in money transmitting scheme

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Eleven men face multiple charges in Brooklyn for alleged investment fraud, money laundering and unlicensed money transmitting business schemes, prosecutors announced Friday.

According to court documents, the defendants, Jin Hua Zhang (35), Gregory Armand (44), Chen Chen (33), Yanbin Chen (24), Yanbing Chen (28), Changgui Huang (30), Xin Jin (33), Jiahui Miao (24), Lingming Zheng (37), Jin Fu Zhang (39) and Hua Zhou (33) allegedly defrauded over 200 victims of almost $18 million as a part of a “Pig Butchering” investment fraud scheme, as well as money laundering schemes, allegedly converting more than $52 million of cash to cashiers checks.

The defendants, many of whom hail from Brooklyn, Queens and Staten Island, were arrested and arraigned in federal court Oct. 13 before Magistrate Judge Peggy Kuo, one defendant remains at large. Court documents indicate that the defendants face various offenses, including money laundering conspiracy, wire fraud conspiracy, bank fraud conspiracy, passport fraud conspiracy, aggravated identity theft and conspiring to operate an unlicensed money transmitting business.

Breon Peace, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of New York stated “As alleged, nearly $18 million was swindled from over 200 victims throughout the country and laundered through the defendants’ sophisticated money laundering scheme. These 11 arrests demonstrate the seriousness of financial fraud and the commitment of this Office and our law enforcement partners to rooting out bad actors and protecting victims.”

According to the indictment, the defendants’ alleged money laundering conspiracy dates back to May 2021 in which they laundered proceeds from an investment fraud scheme referred to as “Sha Zu Pan” or the “pig butchering” scam. Through this scam, more than 200 victims were contacted through messaging applications and convinced to invest in trading platforms by sending funds to purported money manager bank accounts, funds adding up to almost $18 million, that were later stolen.

“For once the name of a scam – pig butchering – reflects the grotesque nature of the harm it causes victims. We allege these fraudsters bled dry each of their victims and then used the money to set up fake cryptocurrency accounts. We know there are many more victims of these types of scams, and we urge those people to report it to the FBI. We will do all we can to bring each and every criminal to justice,” stated FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge Michael J. Driscoll.

The eleven defendants also allegedly operated an unlicensed money transmitting business, converting $52 million in cash into cashier’s checks on behalf of customers, profiting off a portion of the fee that the business received. 

Along with these money laundering schemes, the defendants allegedly opened bank and cryptocurrency accounts under false names, using forged passports and identification documents of real people.

“These defendants betrayed the trust of hundreds of people for profit, stealing millions of dollars through their brazenly callous investment scheme,” said NYPD Commissioner Sewell. “The NYPD and our law enforcement partners will continue to aggressively pursue anyone who seeks to defraud and victimize others, holding them fully accountable for their actions. I want to thank and commend the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District, the New York Field Office of the FBI, the DEA’s New York Division, and our NYPD investigators for their tireless work on this case.”