Man Charged for Affinity Fraud Scheme that Promised Hmong Homeland
United States Attorney Andrew M. Luger today announced a federal criminal complaint charging SENG XIONG, 48, with wire fraud for operating an affinity fraud scheme. XIONG was arrested on Thursday, March 24, 2016, at Los Angeles International Airport, prior to boarding a flight bound for Thailand. XIONG made an initial appearance on Friday, March 25, 2016, before United States Magistrate Judge Jacqueline Chooljian in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, Calif. XIONG was denied bail and ordered remanded into custody pending removal to the District of Minnesota. A next court date has not yet been scheduled.
“This defendant is charged with targeting ethnic Hmong elders,” said United States Attorney Andrew Luger. “I encourage adults and immigrant families to remain on the lookout for thieves who seek to exploit vulnerable victims. My Office, the FBI, and the Minnesota Financial Crimes Task Force, which is comprised of local and federal law enforcement officers, are all resources to seek out if and when you are concerned about a suspicious investment opportunity.”
According to the criminal complaint and documents filed in court, on September 14, 2015, the Appleton, Wisc., Police Department received a tip that Hmong elders were being directed to deposit $3,000 to $5,000 into a bank account held in the name of SENG XIONG. In exchange for the payments, elders were allegedly promised 10 acres of land, a house and many other benefits in a future country that would be established as a Hmong homeland somewhere in Southeast Asia.
According to the criminal complaint and documents filed in court, on September 28, 2015, law enforcement in Saint Paul, Minn., received information that SENG XIONG was believed to be conducting a fraud scheme through his organizations, “International Fund for Hmong Development,” and “Hmong Tebchaws.” The website for “Hmong Tebchaws,” stated the mission of the organization was to “Pursue Hmong self-ruled (sic) in the mainland of Asia in accordance in international law.” The website also contained links to YouTube videos where more information about the “investment program” was available. Other promises made by “Hmong Tebchaws” included that the organization was working with the White House and United Nations to secure land for the Hmong Homeland, and that China, Japan, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam have all agreed to acknowledge the Hmong people and have saved a piece of land for the Hmong people.
According to the criminal complaint and documents filed in court, a witness known as “K.X.,” has been following the “Hmong Tebchaws” website. According to the witness, since October 2014 the organization has been posting information on its website and various social media sites and has been hosting conference calls for potential “investors.” K.X. participated in six such calls between April 4, 2015, and September 21, 2015.
According to the criminal complaint and documents filed in court, XIONG was targeting elderly Hmong to make contributions to a future Hmong country that would be created sometime between 2015 and 2030. Different “investment options” were offered, which purported to represent varying levels of return that “founders” would be able to receive on their investments. Investments between $3,000 and $5,000 would guarantee the “investor” and his or her future generations, land, a house, free healthcare, free education, and government financial assistance for people over 65 years of age.
According to the criminal complaint and documents filed in court, “investors” were ultimately provided XIONG’s name and a bank account associated with XIONG to which they could direct funds.
If you or someone you know could be a victim, please contact the Minnesota Financial Crimes Task Force by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
This case is the result of an investigation conducted by the Minnesota Financial Crimes Task Force, Saint Paul Police Department, United States Secret Service, Federal Bureau of Investigation and Appleton Police Department.
Special assistance was provided by the United States Attorney’s Offices for the Eastern District of California.
This case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Amber M. Brennan.
SENG XIONG, 48
No known address
- Wire fraud, 1 count