LOS ANGELES – A federal grand jury indictment returned this week charges two Chinese nationals with operating an illegal money transfer business that moved funds from the China to the United States, in some cases using proceeds of romance scams to provide money to their U.S.-based customers.
A four-count superseding indictment filed Wednesday charges two people currently being sought by the FBI. The new indictment, which supersedes an indictment filed in 2018, charges both defendants with conspiracy to operate an unlicensed money transmitting business and witness tampering offenses.
The defendants in this case are Dianwei Wang, 31, and Zhili “Ethan” Song, 36, both of whom previously resided in West Covina. Wang and Song are fugitives.
Wang and Song allegedly operated an “informal value transfer system” (IVTS), which the indictment describes as “a network of people who would receive funds from a customer in one location for the purpose of making roughly equivalent funds available (minus a fee) to the customer in another location, often in a different country.” An IVTS can be known by various names, including “fei ch’ien” in China and “hawala” in the Middle East.
As part of the scheme alleged in the indictment, Wang and Song told their IVTS customers to deposit money into Chinese bank accounts they controlled or had access to with a promise that the…