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Press Release

Man Charged in $1.49 Million Scam Involving Bitcoin ATM Deposits and Bulk Gold Purchases; Victim is Retiree who Lost Life Savings

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of California


SAN DIEGO – Xilin Sun made his first appearance in federal court today to face charges that he participated in a multinational fraud conspiracy that targeted a 70-year-old retiree from Carlsbad who was tricked into handing over $1.335 million. 

According to the complaint, the San Diego Elder Justice Task Force learned of the fraud scheme after the victim reported to Carlsbad police that she was duped over a period of months by fraudsters posing as government, bank and tech-support employees. Specifically, she said she was using her computer when a pop-up window appeared, advising her to call for help because her computer had been hacked.

When she made the call, she was transferred through a series of co-conspirators pretending to work in tech support who told her to download software on her computer. She was also told her personal identifying and bank account information were compromised and was subsequently referred to co-conspirators posing as employees from her financial institutions. The victim was then told she needed to “secure” her assets. At the direction of someone posing as a bank employee, she deposited approximately $55,700 into Bitcoin ATMs located in North County San Diego.

The complaint further describes how once the scammers discovered the victim had substantial savings, they convinced her she could safeguard her funds by obtaining gold bars and sending them to the U.S. treasury, which would create a locker under her name. Over the course of two months, the victim sent approximately $1,335,000 via three separate wire transfers to a precious metal business located in San Marcos, California. Once each of the wire transfers were completed, the victim was instructed to pick up the purchased precious metals—consisting of mostly gold—and to package them. The victim was then directed to hand the package over to an individual under the false pretense that it was being “secured” for safekeeping. In reality, the victim was scammed out of her life savings. 

According to the complaint, in February 2024, the scammers reached out to the victim yet again and instructed her to purchase $100,000 worth of additional gold. This time, however, the victim contacted the FBI, which set up a controlled delivery of a package made to look like it contained $100,000 in gold.   

The complaint described how the victim met with one of the conspirators outside a bank in Carlsbad. After handing the package to the conspirator, task force agents followed the first conspirator, who traveled approximately two miles before handing the package to a second conspirator, later identified as defendant Xilin Sun. 

Sun was stopped by the California Highway Patrol, the complaint said. In Sun’s vehicle, investigators located the fake gold package and the victim’s receipt. Agents also located additional evidence linking Sun to the victim, including photos of the fake gold the victim had sent to the conspirators over the phone, a copy of an invoice, and the receipt for the gold.

“If you think you may have been scammed, report it immediately,” said U.S. Attorney Tara McGrath. “These schemes are organized by sophisticated global networks with the ability to fool even the most savvy computer users. But if victims report quickly, we have a better chance of catching the scammers and retrieving stolen money.”

“Thousands of people fall victim to elder fraud every year. Many do not report the fraud because they are embarrassed or afraid; however, the best course of action is to report scams as early as possible,” said Acting Special Agent in Charge John Kim. “The San Diego Elder Justice Task Force is dedicated to relentlessly pursuing criminals who prey on innocent individuals for personal gain.”

This case was investigated by the San Diego Elder Justice Task Force and its member agencies, including the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Federal Bureau of Investigation, San Diego County District Attorney’s Office, Carlsbad Police Department, San Diego Police Department, and the California Highway Patrol.

If you or someone you know is age 60 or older and has been a victim of financial fraud, help is available through the National Elder Fraud Hotline: 1-833 FRAUD-11 (1-833-372-8311). You can also report fraud to any local law enforcement agency or on the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center at

The FBI requests victims report:

  • The name of the person or company that contacted you.
  • Methods of communication used, including websites, emails, and telephone numbers.
  • Any bank account number(s) to which you wired funds and the recipient name(s).
  • The name and location of the metal dealer company and the account to which you wired funds, if you were instructed to buy precious metals.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kevin Mokhtari.

DEFENDANT                                               Case Number 24MJ1502-BLM                               

Xilin Sun                                                         Age: 35                                   Ontario, California


Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud – Title 18, U.S.C., Section 1349

Criminal Forfeiture – Title 18, U.S.C., Sections 981(a)(1)(C), 982(a)(2)(A), and Title 28, U.S.C., Section 2461(c)

Maximum Penalties: Thirty years in prison; $1 million fine


Federal Bureau of Investigation

San Diego Elder Justice Task Force

Carlsbad Police Department

California Highway Patrol

San Diego County District Attorney’s Office
San Diego Police Department

*The charges and allegations contained in an indictment or complaint are merely accusations, and the defendants are considered innocent unless and until proven guilty. 


Media Relations Director Kelly Thornton (619) 546-9726 or  

Updated April 18, 2024

Elder Justice
Financial Fraud
Press Release Number: CAS24-0418-Xilin