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Chinese takeaway worker led cops to one of world’s biggest Bitcoin seizures after buying supercars & mansions in scam

A CHINESE takeaway worker led cops to the UK’s biggest-ever Bitcoin haul after splurging on luxury holidays and super cars.

Jian Wen, 42, is said to have been the “front person” recruited to help fugitive Yadi Zhang, 45, launder the profits in a £5billion fraud operation.

MET POLICE/UNPIXSMum-of-one Jian Wen, 42, was working at a Chinese takeaway before getting involved in the UK’s biggest Bitcoin haul[/caption]

MET POLICE/UNPIXSA note written by Wen regarding Bitcoin and the BTC caode – the smallest denomination of Bitcoin[/caption]

MET POLICE/UNPIXSWen’s phone messages relating to the purchase of a flat in Dubai[/caption]

Zhang arrived in London in September 2017 and within weeks Wen had left her takeaway job and moved into a £5million six-bedroom house near Hampstead Heath.

The pair claimed to run an international jewellery firm while travelling the world and spending tens of thousands of pounds on designer clothes from Harrods.

Wen also bought a £25,000 E-Class Mercedes and sent her son to £6,000-a-term Heathside preparatory school.

Alarm bells rang when the mum tried to buy some of the capital’s most expensive homes, including a £23.5million seven-bedroom Hampstead mansion with a pool and another worth £12.5million.

Despite her extravagant spending, Wen had declared income of just £5,979 in 2016/17 and failed to explain the source of the Bitcoin she was using to pay for the homes.

MET POLICE/UNPIXSA property Wen attempted to buy in London[/caption]

MET POLICE/UNPIXSAnother lavish home Wen tried to buy before alarm bells were raised[/caption]

MET POLICE/UNPIXSPiles of cash discovered during police searches connected to Wen[/caption]

Cops raided the women’s home on October 31 2018.

Led by a veteran money laundering investigator for the Met Police, officers seized laptops, notebooks and a pink USB stick stored in a metal tin, reports the Financial Times.

In Wen’s bedroom, they found £69,000 in cash.

When police noticed Wen trying to delete apps from her iPhone, they asked her to hand it over.

The case of another iPhone contained two €500 bills and a handwritten note with a list of passwords.

Two-and-a-half years later investigators realised they had made the UK’s biggest-ever cryptocurrency seizure after finding 61,000 Bitcoin in digital wallets.

The cryptocurrency was then worth £1.4billion, with its worth now at more than £3billion.

23,308 Bitcoin – now worth more than £1billion – linked to the probe remains in circulation.

How does Bitcoin work

The price of Bitcoin is defined by supply and demand. There is a finite number and will only ever be 21 million Bitcoins.

Bitcoins are mined with various levels of software and then exchanged with investors or speculators, as well as then being sold for actual money.

The trial provided a rare examination of the role of Bitcoin in money laundering, showing how crypto can be used to squirrel away unfathomable sums.

And how hard it can be for law enforcement to keep up.

Since bitcoin’s creation in 2009, regulated financial institutions have viewed the sector warily, worried about money-laundering risks.

It came from a £5billion investment scam committed in China by Zhang who conned nearly 130,000 Chinese investors in bogus wealth schemes between 2014 and 2017 before coming to the UK on a false passport, Southwark Crown Court heard.

She has since fled the UK and remains on the run.

Wen was not accused of being involved in the underlying fraud.

She has been found guilty of one count of money laundering between October 2017 and January 2022.

The jury failed to reach verdicts on two similar counts following a trial.

Prosecutors are not seeking retrial and Wen will be sentenced on May 10.

She faces 14 years in prison.

She was acquitted of 10 other money laundering charges which couldn’t be reported over concerns hackers could target the business holding the seized cryptocurrency if figures were made public, reports Sky News.

Wen told the court she moved to the UK in 2007 while heavily pregnant on a spousal visa.

The relationship broke down and she lived modestly with her son in Leeds, taking a law diploma and completing a BA in economics, she said.

She moved to London in 2017, having already opened cryptocurrency accounts but claimed to have “no idea” the scale of Bitcoin she’d be dealing with.

Wen began working at a takeaway in Abbey Wood, South East London and lived in a room below the business.

She successfully applied for a job advert posted by Zhang on social media, describing her role as a “live-in PA for a high net worth individual”.

The pair moved in a £17,000-a-month Hampstead home after paying a £40,000 deposit and six months’ rent in advance.

The travelled to Thailand, Dubai and throughout Europe, with Zhang going by aliases and avoiding countries with Chinese extradition agreements.

Wen bought two apartments in Dubai for more than £500,000 but her attempts to buy properties in London led to anti-money laundering checks.

She first claimed the cryptocurrency had been mined and then said it was a “love present” from Zhang.

Wen accepted she was involved in an arrangement dealing with some of the cryptocurrency, but said she didn’t realise it was a crime and was “duped” and “badly used” by Zhang.

MET POLICE/UNPIXSWen during a trip to Germany[/caption]

MET POLICE/UNPIXSWen in Norway[/caption]

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