Local News

Investigation Into Fraud Leads to Arrest of Chinese National

In March 2023, a Hartford Police Department officer responded to a fraud complaint in which the victim stated he was scammed by a suspect claiming to be from the United States Social Security Administration. The suspect explained to the victim that his financial accounts had been compromised and that he needed to move the money in those accounts to a “safe account” that would be protected because it was a government account. The suspect provided the victim with a photo of a Social Security Administration identification badge as “proof” of his identity.

Ultimately, the victim wired approximately $98,000 to a bank account provided by the suspect. The suspect also attempted to have the victim wire an additional $200,000, which the victim attempted to do but was stopped by staff at the victim's financial institution. The suspect provided a “receipt” to the victim that identified the banking information where the victim was to wire the funds. Additionally, this “receipt” showed that a business was associated with this banking information.

A Hartford Police Department detective was assigned to investigate the matter further. The detective was able to learn that the business associated with the banking information was a registered business through the state of New York, and the listed president of the company was identified as FEI LIANG, of Flushing, NY. Banking records were obtained for this business which identified LIANG as the holder of the account and showed the $98,000 from the victim being deposited into that account. There were also numerous ATM withdrawals from the New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut areas. Additionally, several other large dollar deposits from other states were shown being deposited into the account around the same time frame. The detective observed that several days after these large dollar deposits were made, wire transfers were made from the suspect account to financial institutions in Hong Kong.

Based on the information learned by the detective, the United States Social Security Administration Office of the Inspector General was contacted and agreed to assist in the investigation of the suspect. Also assisting in the investigation were members of the Financial Crimes Task Force of the New York Police Department.

In the ensuing months, the investigation determined that LIANG was responsible for defrauding 6 elderly victims nationwide out of approximately $628,000, including the Hartford victim.

On February 25, 2024, LIANG was arrested in Maryland by members of the United States Social Security Administration and Department of Homeland Security. He was extradited to New York and subsequently charged with 6 felonies concerning this investigation. Two co-conspirators were also identified and were being investigated separately by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. They were arrested on March 1, 2024, at JFK Airport in New York after returning to the United States from China, via Brussels, Belgium.

There is a good chance our victim will never see that money again.

These fraud cases often take countless manhours to bring to a conclusion. More often than not, investigators suspend the investigation due to the international nature and the inability to follow up and secure a prosecution. The Hartford Police department remains dedicated to aggressively pursuing justice for the victims. These types of cases are occurring and being investigated more often. We hope that highlighting this case sparks conversation amongst the public such that it brings awareness of how these scams are carried out. It is no coincidence they target some of our most vulnerable residents. Talk with your neighbors, family, and friends, about how to protect yourself from these types of scams.