Chinese police have seized more than $4.2 billion worth of crypto assets in its clampdown against the Plustoken Ponzi scheme.
According to a court ruling made public on Nov. 26, and shared by The Block, law enforcement confiscated a total of 194,775 bitcoin (BTC), 833,083 ether (ETH), 1.4 million litecoin (LTC), and 27.6 million EOS.
They also took 74,167 DASH, 487 million ripple (XRP), 6 billion DOGE, 79,581 bitcoin cash (BCH), and 213,724 tether (USDT).
The assets were seized from seven persons convicted during the police crackdown, says the court judgment. Altogether, the cryptocurrencies are valued at more than $4.2 billion, using prevailing market prices.
The Yancheng Intermediate People’s Court ruling said once the digital assets are processed as per existing national laws, they will be forfeited to the national treasury. However, it is not clear how exactly this process will be done.
In July, police in China arrested 109 people linked with the Plustoken Ponzi scheme – 27 of whom were believed to be the alleged masterminds. Local media reported then that the racket had scammed $7.6 billion worth of crypto from over two million people.
The scheme touted itself as a crypto exchange and wallet provider, promising users who invested a minimum of $500 in bitcoin high daily payouts. The Yancheng Intermediate People’s Court said Plustoken operated officially between May 2018 and June 27, 2019, drawing in over 2.6 million members across 3,293 levels.
During this period, the pyramid scheme absorbed in excess of 314,000 BTC, 117,450 BCH, 96,023 DASH, 11 billion DOGE, 1.84 million LTC, 9 million ETH, 51 million EOS, and 928 million XRP.
The court said the assets were worth around 14.8 billion yuan or about $2.2 billion at the time of the absorption. Current valuations put the loot above $11 billion. Plustoken used these funds to pay members to recruit new targets, while the scheme masterminds allegedly cashed out some for daily and personal spending.
The Ponzi collapsed in June 2019, citing “system maintenance” – a typical scam exit strategy. Chinese authorities quickly moved in, arresting dozens of the Plustoken key members.
According to the latest court ruling, a total of 15 people have been convicted so far and sentenced to between two to 11 years in prison with fines between $100,000 to $1 million.
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