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Press Release

Chinese national charged in “pig butchering” scheme

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

TYLER, Texas – A Chinese national has been charged with participating in a scheme to launder the proceeds of cryptocurrency investment scams and other fraudulent schemes involving millions of dollars in victim funds in the Eastern District of Texas, announced U.S. Attorney Damien M. Diggs.

Fei Liao, 29, of San Gabriel, California, was brought into federal custody on May 3, 2024.  On May 20, 2024, Liao waived arraignment and pleaded not guilty to the charges.  The indictment charges Liao with conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering.  Liao and others allegedly conspired to open shell companies and bank accounts to launder victim proceeds of cryptocurrency investment scams – also known as “pig butchering” – and other fraudulent schemes. Then, they allegedly transferred the funds involved in the fraud schemes to domestic and international financial institutions. Each of the charges for conspiracy to commit wire fraud and conspiracy to commit money laundering carry a maximum statutory sentence of 20 years in federal prison.

According to court documents, pig butchering fraud schemes (a term derived from a foreign-language phrase used to describe these crimes) consist of scammers encountering victims on dating services or social media, or through unsolicited messages or calls, often masquerading as a wrong number. Scammers initiate relationships with victims and slowly gain their trust, eventually introducing the idea of making a business investment using cryptocurrency. Victims are then directed to other members of the scheme operating fraudulent cryptocurrency investment platforms and applications, where victims are persuaded to make financial investments. Once funds are sent to scammer-controlled accounts, the investment platform often falsely shows significant gains on the purported investment, and the victims are thus induced to make additional investments. Ultimately, the victims are unable to withdraw or recover their money, often resulting in significant losses for the victims.

An indictment is merely an allegation. The defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

This case is being investigated by the U.S. Secret Service, Tyler Resident Office.  This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Austin Wells.

If you or someone you know is a victim, report it to the In the report, please reference “Pig Butchering PSA” and include as much information as possible in the complaint including names of investment platforms, cryptocurrency addresses and transaction hashes, bank account information, and names and contact information of suspected scammers. Maintain copies of all communications with scammers and records of financial transactions.


Updated May 24, 2024

Financial Fraud