A California attorney was recently sentenced to one day in jail and three years of supervised release after she pled guilty in 2018 to defrauding more than 100 wealthy Chinese nationals.
According to court records and news reports on the story, Attorney Victoria Chan and her father, Tat Chan, took advantage of the EB-5 investment program that allows foreign investors to make job-creating investments in the United States in exchange for green cards. Under the EB-5 program, foreign investors can obtain permanent residence permits by investing a minimum of $500,000 into a U.S. business that generates a minimum of ten new jobs.
Court records show that Chan and her father created a company called California Investment Immigration Fund (CIIF) to run the scheme. According to court documents, CIIF purported to be a real estate fund geared towards the development of residential and commercial properties.
In total, Victoria Chan submitted as many as 130 fraudulent green card applications on behalf of the investors involved in the scheme. Rather than devoting investors’ money into the real estate projects as promised, Chan and her father used the money for personal expenditures, including million-dollar homes throughout California.
Actions to Take Before Making an EB-5 Investment
This recent news story of EB-5 investment fraud should serve as a harsh warning to anyone thinking of making such an investment. It is crucial to understand the potential vulnerability you may have if you are planning to obtain an EB-5 visa in the near future. This is especially true right now during the pandemic because scam artists are becoming more creative with their methods of obtaining money from foreign investors.
One of the most important actions you can take to avoid becoming a victim of EB-5 fraud is completing due diligence. Asking the right questions about your potential investment can reduce the chances of falling for a fraudulent investment scheme and losing your hard-earned money.
For example, you should ask these questions and more:
- Who are you dealing with?
- What is the investment?
- Is the investment safe or risky?
According to the Department of Homeland Security, EB-5 scams “can involve anybody,” including investors, applicants, attorneys, migration agents, promoters, agencies, and, as this news story showed us, EB-5 attorneys. It is especially important to recognize the importance of completing due diligence in any EB-5 investment. Awareness of these fraudulent techniques and strategies will save you time, money, and energy while obtaining your EB-5 visa.
If you have any questions at all about the EB-5 process, our team from Vernon Litigation Group is more than happy to help you. From our offices in Florida and Georgia, we currently represent several EB-5 investors and have represented a number of foreign investors in a wide variety of legal disputes. We offer pre-investment due diligence to foreign investors looking into EB-5 investments, which might be the first and only step you need to take to uncover EB-5 investment fraud and avoid it.
Contact us today for a no-cost consultation to discuss your potential EB-5 investment.