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Press Release

Former Silicon Valley CEO Pleads Guilty to Defrauding Employees of Tech Company Start-Up

For Immediate Release
Office of Public Affairs

The founder and chief executive officer of a now-defunct Silicon Valley technology company start-up known publicly as WrkRiot pleaded guilty today for defrauding several of his company’s former employees by luring them to join his company based on false and misleading statements about his educational, professional and financial background, and by enticing them to continue working for his company through forged documents purportedly reflecting salary payments that were never made.

Acting Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Acting U.S. Attorney Alex G. Tse of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California and Special Agent in Charge John F. Bennett of the FBI’s San Francisco Field Office made the announcement.

Isaac Choi aka Yi Suk Choi, Yisuk Choi, Yi Suk Chae and Isaac Chae (Choi), 36, most recently of Orange County and previously of Santa Clara, California, pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud before U.S. District Judge Edward J. Davila of the Northern District of California.  Sentencing has been scheduled for May 24 before Judge Davila.

As part of his guilty plea, Choi admitted that while attempting to recruit potential employees, he made false and misleading statements about various topics, including his educational and professional history, and the amount of his wealth.  Choi admitted in his plea that, in truth, he never attended any business school, that he was never employed in any capacity by any financial institution, and that he exaggerated his wealth.  He further admitted that in August 2016, while at WrkRiot’s office in Santa Clara, he emailed several of his employees fake wire transfer confirmation documents purporting to reflect their salary payments for the purpose of convincing his employees to continue working for his privately failing company.

This case was investigated by the FBI’s San Jose Resident Agency.  Trial Attorney Cory E. Jacobs of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeff Schenk of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California are prosecuting the case.

Updated February 5, 2018

Press Release Number: 18-134