Minnesota man steals more than $1.7M from Hmong elders in affinity fraud scheme

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 Minnesota (Press Release) – On Thursday, United States Attorney Andrew M. Luger announced the conviction of 49-year-old Seng Xiong, from Maplewood, MN, for operating an affinity scheme targeting Hmong elders. After a trial lasting more than two weeks, the jury verdict was returned in approximately two hours. Xiong was convicted of one count wire fraud and one count mail fraud. A sentencing date has not been set.
 
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“Seng Xiong took the Hmong people’s tragic history of war and displacement and manipulated that for his own benefit,” said Assistant United States Attorney Amber Brennan. “We hope today’s verdict sends a message that the United States will protect those who have been defrauded. We’d especially like to thank the dedicated officers of the Saint Paul Police Department who serve the largest population of Hmong immigrants in the United States.”
As proven at trial, Xiong conducted a fraud scheme through his organization called, “Hmong Tebchaws,” in which Hmong elders were directed to deposit $3,000 to $5,000 into a bank account held in the name of Seng Xiong. In exchange for the payments, victims were 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.
As proven at trial, Xiong claimed to be working with the White House and United Nations to establish the new Hmong country.  He also claimed that a piece of land had already been set aside for the Hmong people somewhere in Southeast Asia.
As proven at trial, Xiong offered several “investment” options which purported to represent varying levels of return that “founders” would be able to receive on their investment in the new country. 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, as well as a return on that investment equal to a percentage of the income generated by the new Hmong country.  Those who could not afford the $3,000 – $5,000 “founders” option could pay $20 per month, or $240 per year. This lesser investment would secure a spot in the new Hmong country along with some of the benefits.
If you or someone you know could be a victim, please contact the Minnesota Financial Crimes Task Force by sending an email to mspectf@usss.dhs.gov.