Ex-Athens resident James 'Jimmy' Zhong Bitcoin fraud featured by … – Online Athens


A new CNBC documentary details the story of James “Jimmy” Zhong and the 2019 Athens break-in that exposed a $3 billion cryptocurrency fraud.
“Crypto 911: Exposing a Bitcoin Billionaire” shows never-seen-before footage and in-depth interviews with Athens-Clarke County police, a special agent with the IRS, a cyber intelligence expert and a private investigator. The half-hour feature was reported by CNBC’s Eamon Javers and produced by Paige Tortorelli.
Zhong, who lived a lavish lifestyle using the billions of dollars he made of stolen cryptocurrency, was living on Ruth Street in Athens in March 2019, when he reported his home was burglarized while he was out of town. He came home to discover a window in a rear bedroom shattered and the thief had found a brief case that contained $400,000 cash and a USB thumb drive with personal information, according to the police report obtained by the Athens Banner-Herald.
That 911 call turned into a $3.36 billion bitcoin bust, described by the U.S. Attorney as the largest financial seizure ever by the Internal Revenue Service, according to previous reporting from the Athens Banner-Herald.
In 2012, Zhong hacked a site on the dark web called Silk Road, one of the earliest crypto marketplaces, where anonymous buyers and sellers exchanged all manner of illicit material. In the hack, Zhong stole 50,000 Bitcoins, which eventually increased in value to $3 billion.
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An investigation by ACCPD, the IRS and other agencies into Zhong’s Bitcoin finances led to a November 2021 search of Zhong’s home in Gainesville that resulted in the seizure of more than $3.36 billion in Bitcoin.
When federal investigators searched Zhong’s home they seized bitcoin in an underground floor safe, bitcoin loaded on a computer that was hidden inside a popcorn tin, along with $661,900 cash and 11 1-ounce bars of silver and gold.
The ACCPD never solved the mystery of who burglarized Zhong, so he turned to private investigator Robin Martinelli, who owns and operates Martinelli Investigations in nearby Loganville, Georgia, according to CNBC.
Martinelli looked through surveillance footage at his home, then surveilled Zhong’s circle of friends. She said that they may have been using him a little bit, according to CNBC, and that he didn’t like hearing about it.
Zhong told the police officer he felt the person who stole the money apparently knew him because he had hidden the brief case behind an air vent.
“Jimmy wanted to be loved,” Martinelli told CNBC. “Jimmy wanted friends.”
Zhong plead guilty to wire fraud in November 2022 and was sentenced in April 2023 to one year and a day in federal prison. Zhong, 33, began his sentence at the federal prison camp in Montgomery, Alabama, on July 14, 2023, according to CNBC.


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