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Press Release

Over $118,000 In Fraud Proceeds Seized and Will Be Returned to Victim

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Louisiana

NEW ORLEANS – U.S. Attorney Duane A. Evans announced that on November 29, 2023 United States District Judge Greg G. Guidry entered a Final Judgment of Forfeiture against more than $118,000 worth of cryptocurrency seized from an individual involved in a pervasive computer-based scheme. The money will be returned to the victim.

According to the Verified Complaint for Forfeiture in Rem filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, in about January 2023, unidentified criminal actors colluded to access, without authorization, a computer belonging to a resident of the Eastern District of Louisiana. This unlawful access caused a pop-up message to appear on the victim’s computer screen instructing the victim to call a number purporting to be Apple Support for further assistance. The victim called the number and a hacker, impersonating Apple Support personnel, told the victim that hackers had accessed  the victim’s computer and made unauthorized financial charges to that account. The victim was instructed to enter a series of commands in the terminal screen so the computer could run an activity monitor and remove the purported hackers’ access to the victim’s computer.

Approximately one week later, another criminal actor impersonating a financial institution representative, called and advised the victim that the Federal Reserve had instructed the victim  to transfer money from the financial institution to Coinbase, a cryptocurrency exchange platform. The impersonator said that the Federal Reserve advised that the transfer must occur for safekeeping purposes until the Apple Support activity monitor program was complete. As a result, between July 29, 2022, and August 8, 2022, the victim transferred approximately $118,753.47 to a Coinbase account.

Shortly thereafter, the victim became concerned about the legitimacy of the scheme and contacted the Federal Reserve, Consumer, Financial Protection Bureau, Office of Inspector General (OIG CFPB OIG). OIG CFPB OIG and United States Secret Service analysts successfully traced funds to the victim’s Coinbase deposits and learned that the funds were quickly laundered through a series of cryptocurrency addresses. Through the issuance of legal process and, ultimately, the Final Judgment of Forfeiture, the funds were recovered and will soon be returned to the victim. Civil forfeiture prevents unjust enrichment where criminal prosecution is unfeasible.

Cyber incidents and data breaches such as this are increasingly common and continue to proliferate globally. But they can be prevented. Here are some tips:

  • Configure your firewalls to block access to known malicious IP addresses.
  • Update operating systems, software and firmware on devices.
  • Be on the lookout for requests to transfer funds, especially if the request is pronounced with a sense of urgency.
  • Be cautious with strangers. Don’t send payments to unknown people or organizations seeking monetary support or urge immediate action. 

For more information visit the Secret Service’s Preparing for a Cyber Incident page.

U.S. Attorney Evans praised the work of the United States Secret Service and the Federal Reserve, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, Office of Inspector General in investigating this matter. Assistant United States Attorney Alexandra Giavotella, Asset Forfeiture Coordinator, of the Monetary Penalties and Recovery Unit, handled this case.


Shane M. Jones

Public Information Officer

United States Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Louisiana

United States Department of Justice

Updated December 18, 2023

Asset Forfeiture