HomeHmong AmericanWoman charged with defrauding $16.5M from mostly Hmong American  

Woman charged with defrauding $16.5M from mostly Hmong American  

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is charging Kay Yang and her company Saphire LLC with allegedly defrauding around 70 investors from 2017 to 2021 out of more than 16 million dollars. Her husband, Chao Yang, has also been charged as a secondary defendant for being a beneficiary of the funds received from the fraud.

Kay’s scheme spanned Minnesota, Wisconsin, and six other states, reported Yahoo News. The SEC alleges most who invested with Kay are members of the Hmong American community. The SEC also noted that “some of these investors do not speak English as a first language, and some of them were not sophisticated investors.”

Kay received $16.5 million from her investors, with “almost nothing” left of the money today. Kay told investors that she would invest their money through foreign exchange trading which promised successful annual returns from 20 to 50 percent, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. The SEC alleges that only $7.1 million of the $16.5 million was used in foreign exchange trading, of which Kay incurred $3.5 million in trading losses and other fees. 

An additional $4.5 million was used for Kay and her family. With her husband, Chao, they are charged with appropriating funds for their expenses — $790,000 on living expenses, $585,000 on travel, and $313,000 on luxury vehicles, CBS Minnesota reported. For the funds appropriated for travel, it is alleged that $80,000 was spent on a trip to Thailand with 20 guests.

Kay has also been charged in a separate civil complaint by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission which contained similar allegations to the charges by SEC. The separate civil complaint referenced a 2020 order by the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions for Kay to pay $17 million in restitution to investors, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

In addition, CBS Minnesota said he SEC aims to stop Kay and Chao from working as investors and return their investor’s money with interest.

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