US seizes pig-butchering funds at Evolve Bank

A January complaint for forfeiture filing initially reviewed by Fintech Business Weekly details several million dollars seized at Evolve Bank and Trust related to a variety of fraudulent enterprises, including crypto-based pig-butchering and money laundering.

The complaint alleges that Paralel Design Limited, Gatcha Pictures Limited, and Bytechip LLC were engaged in an interconnected scheme to provide money laundering services, specifically receiving funds from cryptocurrency investment scams, pig-butchering scams, and other fraudulent activity.

The filing describes the group behind the operation as ’26 Chinese nationals who allegedly reside in California, New York, and various regions throughout China.’ It also claims that they “All appear to be conspiring together to orchestrate fraud scams.” A US Secret Service agent describes these allegations in the filing. 

Read more: Hundreds freed from ‘pig-butchering’ compound after victim escapes

Evolve Bank and Trust provides Banking as a Service (BaaS) products that enable other firms to open up ‘vAccounts’ at Evolve for its clients. Allegedly, these firms engaged in fraud would open vAccounts at one of more of the following platforms: Wise, Airwallex, Mercury, Relay, and Solidfi. These are all Money Service Businesses (MSBs) that maintain contractual agreements for BaaS with EB&T.

A lawsuit filed by ByteChip LLC against Solid on the same day as the complaint for forfeiture describes ByteChip as ‘a leading neobank’ that provides, among other things, ‘Banking-as-a-Service’ products. The lawsuit describes how ByteChip contracted with Solid and opened a virtual bank account with Solid, where funds were held with Evolve Bank and Trust. ByteChip claims to have used the account as a master account to process its clients’ funds.

Evolve eventually froze the funds associated with ByteChip, Gatcha, and another firm called Rinotech, citing ‘unsatisfactory banking practices.’

To clarify, Evolve provided services to Solid, Solid provided services to ByteChip, and ByteChip provided services to its clients — allegedly fraudsters

Diagram of transactions from complaint for forfeiture.

Read more: A year on from the US regional banking crisis, what’s changed?

An investigator for Evolve told the agent investigating the fraud that they estimated the total exposure was in excess of $15 million in Evolve’s virtual accounts. 

Evolve served as the card issuer for BlockFi’s credit card, provided some accounts to FTX customers, and was named in the FTX bankruptcy. At the time, Evolve stated that “Evolve does not lend against cryptocurrency; we do not offer crypto custodial services, and we do not trade crypto or hold any form of cryptocurrency on our balance sheet. Further, Evolve does not currently, nor have we at any point in the past, invest in or transact crypto.”

They continued, “Evolve was in the process of dissolving our relationship with FTX at the time of their bankruptcy filing. To be clear, Evolve did not lend to FTX or their affiliates; we do not have corporate or deposit accounts with FTX or their affiliates. Again, Evolve does not currently, nor have we ever, invest or transact crypto.”

Got a tip? Send us an email or ProtonMail. For more informed news, follow us on XInstagramBluesky, and Google News, or subscribe to our YouTube channel.