Richmond Woman Charged with Defrauding Tongan Community in $13 Million Stockton-Based International Ponzi Scheme
For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of California
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A federal grand jury returned a 30-count indictment on Sept. 14, 2023, against Tilila Siola’a Walker Sumchai, 61, of Richmond, charging her with wire fraud, mail fraud, securities fraud, and the sale of unregistered securities, U.S. Attorney Phillip A. Talbert announced.
According to court documents, between January 2021 and October 2021, Walker Sumchai orchestrated a scheme to defraud investors in the United States, Australia, and New Zealand from her Stockton office. Claiming to use a secret algorithm, Walker Sumchai solicited Tongan investors and promised them that if they gave her money to purchase shares of the “Tongi Tupe” investment program, she would invest the money, and they would receive their principal investments back and thousands of dollars in returns within weeks or months. She also promised investors that if they gave her $30,000, within months they would receive a home in Lodi worth approximately $480,000. Instead, she took investors’ money and used it for her own personal expenses, including gambling, and used it to pay back and lull earlier investors. More than 1,000 investors invested over $13 million with Walker Sumchai.
This case is the product of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office. Assistant U.S. Attorney Lee S. Bickley is prosecuting the case.
If convicted of mail fraud or wire fraud, Walker Sumchai faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for each count of conviction. If convicted of securities fraud, Walker Sumchai faces a maximum statutory penalty of 20 years in prison and a $5 million fine. If convicted of the remaining securities-related counts in the indictment, Walker Sumchai faces a maximum statutory penalty of five years in prison and a $10,000 fine for each count of conviction. Any sentence, however, would be determined at the discretion of the court after consideration of any applicable statutory factors and the Federal Sentencing Guidelines, which take into account a number of variables. The charges are only allegations; the defendant is presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
The FBI is seeking to identify possible victims of Tilila Siola’a Walker Sumchai. If you believe that you were victimized by Walker Sumchai or have information relevant to this investigation, please complete the online form available at https://www.fbi.gov/tongitupevictims.
Updated September 19, 2023