News and Press Releases

Promised Investors Good Returns with Some Profits Going to Charity

April 16, 2010

JOHN MIN, 36, of Tacoma, Washington, was sentenced today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to four years in prison, three years of supervised release and $5.8 million in restitution for Wire Fraud in connection with a fraudulent investment scheme. MIN used fraudulent materials to pitch investments to churches, charitable givers and senior citizens. Between 2005 and 2008, MIN collected more than $6 million from investors or charitable givers. Investors were told the money would be used to invest in currency trading. MIN touted good rates of return and claimed a history of successful currency trading. In fact, MIN had only lost money on currency trading. U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour imposed the sentence.

MIN pleaded guilty December 8, 2009. According to records in the case, MIN made numerous false representations to investors, including that he had a special license for futures and commodities trading, that his funds had been established since 2000 and that he had made strong returns on investments. None of these things were true. MIN provided quarterly statements to investors with falsified information on returns.

In 2007, according to the indictment, MIN established Dime Foundation and made various representations to charitable givers, including that all the funds raised would be “to microloans for the poor.” MIN promised donors that “100 percent of your funds will go directly to people in need.” In fact the funds were used for his foreign currency trading and to pay foundation expenses.

In all MIN raised approximately $6.4 million from more than 60 investors and charitable contributors. MIN lost approximately $5.7 million in the currency trading, and spent the rest to pay off early investors, and for his personal benefit. MIN used the money to make a documentary movie, for buying a new Mercedes and providing private schooling for his children.

In asking for the five year prison term, Assistant United States Attorney Norman Barbosa noted the impact of the crime on the investors writing to the court that MIN’s “fraud has also had a tremendous impact on his victims. One couple wrote that as a result of Mr. Min’s fraud, they lost an inheritance that they had planned to use for charity and to set aside as a college fund for their children. Other victims have written about how Mr. Min’s actions have made it difficult for them to trust others and that they have less trust in their own ability to make important decisions about money. Many are embarrassed that Mr. Min was able to steal from them. Other victims have written that Mr. Min’s scheme resulted in the loss of their retirement savings and that they are now unable to pay off their home as they had planned.”

The case was investigated by the SEC, FBI and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Norman Barbosa.

For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110 or Emily.Langlie@USDOJ.Gov.

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