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Ga. man with more than $3.3 billion in illegally obtained Bitcoin convicted of fraud


GAINESVILLE, Ga. — A Hall County man has pleaded guilty to using a market on the dark web to illegally obtain more than $3 billion in Bitcoin.

Federal prosecutors say investigators raided 32-year-old James Zhong’s Gainesville home in November 2021 where they found 50,676.17851897 Bitcoin with a value of $3.36 billion. At the time, it was the largest cryptocurrency seizure in history.

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Investigators also found $661,900 in cash and various metals in Zhong’s home. Prosecutors say he also has 80% interest in a Memphis real estate company.

Prosecutors say Zhong wanted to defraud the “Silk Road,” a darknet black market for drug dealers, of its money in September 2012. They say he made nine accounts on the “Silk Road” and tricked its systems into giving him 50,000 Bitcoin from its withdrawal-processing system. He then transferred the Bitcoin into separate accounts to keep it from being detected.

They say he put the Bitcoin into the system and then withdraw the same amount five times in a one second window to trick the system before it processed each withdrawal.

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“James Zhong committed wire fraud over a decade ago when he stole approximately 50,000 Bitcoin from Silk Road.  For almost ten years, the whereabouts of this massive chunk of missing Bitcoin had ballooned into an over $3.3 billion mystery,” U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said. “This case shows that we won’t stop following the money, no matter how expertly hidden, even to a circuit board in the bottom of a popcorn tin.”

Zhong is scheduled to be sentenced on February 22, 2023.

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