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Press Release

California Residents Indicted For Defrauding Architecture Firm Of More Than $91,000 By Using Fictitious Law Firm And Fraudulent Target Letter

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of New York

Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, and Daniel B. Brubaker, Inspector in Charge of the New York Division of the United States Postal Inspection Service (“USPIS”), announced the return of an Indictment today by a grand jury charging MATTHEW BLAKE MORROW-WU and SHANGZHEN WU, a/k/a “Daniel Wu,” with perpetrating a scheme to defraud a Manhattan architecture firm (the “Company”) at which WU was employed as a business manager.  MORROW-WU and WU were arrested on February 1, 2023, in Los Angeles, California, pursuant to a criminal Complaint and presented in the Central District of California.  The case has been assigned to U.S. District Judge Alvin K. Hellerstein.

U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said: “Morrow-Wu and Wu brazenly used an architecture firm, at which Wu worked, as their personal ATM.  They transferred over $91,000 from the architecture firm to a fictitious law firm that they incorporated, forged false documentation that appeared to authorize the fraudulent transactions, and ultimately sent a fake target letter — purportedly from this Office — to the architecture firm threatening it with criminal prosecution after the architecture firm continued to dispute the fraudulent transactions.  Morrow-Wu and Wu now face a harsh reality as a result of their elaborate lies and false threats of prosecution: a real prosecution by the Southern District of New York.”

USPIS Inspector in Charge Daniel B. Brubaker said: “Morrow-Wu and Wu conspired to allegedly steal nearly $100,000 from a Manhattan-based business.  Their misguided aim was to make money and conceal their scheme by allegedly duping innocent victims into believing they were the target of a federal investigation.  By mailing their fictitious letter, Morrow-Wu and Wu attracted the attention of the U.S. Attorney’s Office and Postal Inspectors.  In an ironic twist, they became the targets of a federal criminal investigation.  Today’s indictment is the next step on the road to justice for this couple.  This indictment should serve as a stern warning to anyone who would use the U.S. Mail to commit fraud: Postal Inspectors and our law enforcement partners will tirelessly pursue you across the country, from one coast to another, to bring you to justice.”

According to the allegations contained in the Complaint, the Indictment, and statements at public court proceedings in the case:[1]

From at least in or about January 2022 through in or about October 2022, MORROW-WU and WU perpetrated a scheme to steal more than $91,000 from the Company, where WU was employed as a business manager, through the fraudulent and unauthorized use of a credit card held by the Company.  MORROW-WU and WU took extensive steps to conceal the fraud, which included the following:

  • Forming a sham law firm named Morrow Law Group (“MLG”) to receive the funds under the guise of receiving legal fees from the Company, despite the fact that neither MORROW-WU nor WU appear to be licensed attorneys.
  • Fabricating a retainer agreement between MLG and the Company that purported to pre-authorize payments from the Company to MLG, as well as other correspondence from the Company to MLG purportedly authorizing the fraudulent transactions, and forging the signatures of Company representatives in these documents.
  • Using a payment processing provider to process the credit card transactions, enabling MORROW-WU and WU to manually input the names of legitimate vendors of the Company as false recipients of the funds and further disguise the true recipients of the funds.

After the Company confirmed the credit card transactions were fraudulent and unauthorized, it disputed the transactions with the credit card company, leading MORROW-WU and WU to attempt to deter any further action by sending the Company a fake “target letter” from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York (the “Fraudulent Target Letter”).  The Fraudulent Target Letter purported to be signed by a Special Assistant U.S. Attorney on behalf of the U.S. Attorney and threatened the Company with criminal prosecution for wire fraud, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and the fraudulent use of credit cards.

*                *                *

MORROW-WU, 38, and WU, 29, both of Los Angeles, California, are each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wire and mail fraud, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison; one count of wire fraud, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison; one count of mail fraud, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison; one count of impersonating a federal officer, which carries a maximum penalty of three years in prison; and one count of aggravated identity theft, which carries a mandatory sentence of two years in prison. 

The maximum potential sentences in this case are prescribed by Congress and are provided here for informational purposes only, as any sentencings of the defendants will be determined by a judge.

Mr. Williams praised the outstanding investigative work of the Special Agents of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York and the U.S. Postal Inspectors of the USPIS.

This case is being handled by the Office’s General Crimes Unit.  Assistant U.S. Attorney Jerry J. Fang is in charge of the prosecution.

The charges contained in the Complaint and the Indictment are merely accusations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

[1] As the introductory phrase signifies, the entirety of the text of the Complaint and the Indictment and the descriptions of the Complaint and the Indictment set forth herein constitute only allegations, and every fact described should be treated as an allegation.


Nicholas Biase
(212) 637-2600

Updated February 15, 2023

Financial Fraud
Press Release Number: 23-060