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ALEXANDRIA, Va. – A Chinese national pleaded guilty today to his role in a $1.1 million fraud conspiracy involving gift cards.

According to court documents, Jin Hong, 38, of Richmond, was part of a wire fraud conspiracy in which members of the conspiracy contacted victims by telephone or through social media and assumed fictitious identities. The conspirators falsely claimed to be from the Internal Revenue Service or an employee of a financial institution and falsely told victims they were entitled to money or under some form of immediate financial threat, such as having their personal identification information compromised by known criminals. Hong and his co-conspirators used these ruses and others to trick the victims into purchasing gift cards and then sending the gift cards’ redemption codes to them. The redemption codes allow the gift cards to be redeemed without being in possession of the physical card.

Hong, along with co-conspirators Shouming Sun, He Li, Yuchen Zhang, and others, then used the fraudulently obtained redemption codes to purchase goods totaling approximately $1.1 million.

Hong is scheduled to be sentenced on April 7, 2021. He faces a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison. Actual sentences for federal crimes are typically less than the maximum penalties. A federal district court judge will determine any sentence after taking into account the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.

G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; James A. Dawson, Special Agent in Charge of the FBI’s Washington Field Office Criminal Division; Colonel Edwin C. Roessler Jr, Chief of Fairfax County Police; and J. Russell George, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, made the announcement after U.S. District Judge Anthony J. Trenga accepted the plea.

Assistant U.S. Attorney William Fitzpatrick and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney Viviana Vasiu are prosecuting the case.

This matter was investigated by the FBI Washington Field Office’s Transnational Organized Crime Task Force which is composed by FBI agents along with local, state, and federal partners. Significant investigative assistance was provided by the Fairfax County Police Department.

A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:20-cr-254.

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