Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Woodbridge couple loses $1 million in cryptocurrency investment scam


WOODBRIDGE, CT (WFSB) – A Woodbridge couple lost more than one million dollars in a cryptocurrency investment scam. Local and federal authorities are now investigating as there are dozens of victims across the country.

It’s a complex scam that starts out with something simple: a text or message from a stranger. Amos Jiang from Woodbridge received a text in August. He says the person had the wrong number but wanted to learn more about what it’s like to move to the United States from China. A friendship formed, and then that friend told Amos about an investment opportunity in cryptocurrency.

“I see the balance increase, so I think maybe it’s ok,” said Jiang.

Jiang says the website looked legitimate. His son, Eric Jiang, helped his dad explain to Channel 3 how it worked.

“The entire exchange was functional. There was an order book. He could see his trades. He could see everything happen on the exchange, so it seemed very legitimate,” said Eric Jiang.

Amos Jiang says he made the investments because he wanted to help his son.

“He wanted to pay for the wedding. He wanted to buy us a home. When he saw that this was apparently a legitimate opportunity for him to make enough money to pay off the whole home, that’s why he felt it was necessary to continue investing,” said Eric Jiang.

In total, Amos Jiang invested more than one million dollars. It was their lifesavings, plus money from a line of credit on their house.

“To see all of that just disappear, it breaks my heart,” said Eric Jiang.

Amos Jiang realized it was a scam when he got a phone call from the Woodbridge Police Department on November 16th, 2023. The Woodbridge Police Department had been contacted by Detective Michelle Taylor with the Peachtree City Police Department all the way in Georgia. Detective Taylor had been investigating a similar case which led her to a list of around 2 dozen potential victims in 12 different states. She says there are potentially many more victims.

“A lot of times the money is gone, and it’s a dead end from there,” said Taylor.

Taylor says the victims all wire-transferred money to an account for the fraudulent company called “UpUp Fashion”. Jiang says he wire-transferred money to other accounts as well.

Taylor says both the FBI and Secret Service have been notified. She says the difficulty of a case like this is it appears all the money was transferred to an account in Hong Kong.

“The problem I think that all of these agencies run into is that they open these bank accounts, they target quite a few victims all at once, and then they shut them down before they are even discovered,” said Taylor.

“I think it’s just incredibly important to let people know that this is happening,” said Eric Jiang.

The Jiangs hope their story is a lesson for others. The money taken out against their home means they may have to sell it. They’ve created a GoFundMe to try and save their home.

Taylor recommends never sending money to someone you don’t know and talking about any big investments with a trusted friend or loved one.

“It’s like losing cash out of your wallet. When a wire transfer is done, there is a very small window of time where a victim can contact their bank to get that wire transfer stopped,” said Taylor. “If you want to invest in cryptocurrency, most people do that through a well-established organization and not through a complete stranger who has just text messaged you within the last year or a couple months.”

If you think you may have been a victim of a scam like this, Taylor says you should contact your local police department.

You can also file a complaint with the FBI at IC3.gov.

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