U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Government Website

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Safely connect using HTTPS

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock () or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.


  1. Homeland Security Investigations (HSI)
  2. News Room
  3. Virginia Man Pleads Guilty to Financial Fraud Scams Following HSI Washington, D.C. Investigation

Virginia Man Pleads Guilty to Financial Fraud Scams Following HSI Washington, D.C. Investigation

Release Date: May 20, 2024

Conspirator cheated victims out of more than $1 million

ALEXANDRIA, Va. — An investigation conducted by Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Washington, D.C. led to a Virginia man pleading guilty to his role in two financial fraud scams that cheated victims and retailers out of more than $1 million. Sunyu Qian, 31, of Fairfax, entered the guilty plea May 15 at the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia in Alexandria.

“Sunyu Qian cheated his victims out of about one-and-a-quarter-million dollars,” said HSI Washington, D.C. Special Agent in Charge Derek W. Gordon. “In many cases, he took advantage of elderly targets and swindled them out of their hard-earned money. We will not allow such criminal enterprises to operate freely in our communities. HSI Washington, D.C. will continue to work tirelessly to dismantle these financial fraud networks and prosecute con artists like Qian.”

According to the investigation, from Nov. 19, 2020, to Aug. 13, 2023, Qian participated in a scheme to con people into purchasing gift cards that he used to acquire high-value items. He was a member of a criminal enterprise that contacted individuals, mostly elderly victims, across the United States via telephone or email and, through a variety of false pretenses, convinced them to purchase gift cards from large retailers and convey the gift card information to the fraudsters, including Qian.

The value of the cards could be aggregated by Qian to purchase electronics, which Qian then shipped to his co-conspirators. During this scheme, Qian used approximately $1.1 million through unauthorized access.

From April 19, 2023, to March 23, 2024, Qian engaged in another scheme using counterfeit price tags to purchase large containers of baby formula at the lower price of much smaller cans of baby formula.

For instance, on April 19, 2023, Qian scanned counterfeit price tags for 13-ounce cans of formula priced at $4.99 each that he had placed on larger containers of the same formula priced at $62.99 each. Qian would then deliver the baby formula to co-conspirators who paid him in cash. During this scheme, Qian defrauded two retailers of at least $124,000.

Qian’s total culpability over the two schemes is approximately $1.25 million.

Qian pled guilty to one count each of conspiracy to commit access device fraud and conspiracy to commit wire fraud. He is scheduled to be sentenced Sept. 18 and faces a maximum penalty of 25 years in prison.

This case was investigated by HSI Washington, D.C. and prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia.

HSI encourages members of the public with knowledge of criminal activity to call the HSI Tip Line at 877-4-HSI-TIP.

Learn more about HSI Washington, D.C.’s mission to increase public safety in your community on X, formerly known as Twitter, at @HSI_DC.

Last Updated: 05/20/2024
Was this page helpful?
This page was not helpful because the content