Woman sentenced in advance-fee scheme




A California woman who bilked a Vancouver technology start-up business owner and his lender out of $2 million in an advance-fee scheme was sentenced Monday in federal court in Portland to 41 months in prison.

Hui “Judy” Wang, 46, of Laguna Niguel, Calif., pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud. U.S. District Court Judge Ancer L. Haggerty also ordered her to pay $2 million in restitution to the victims.

In 2007, a Vancouver business owner sought venture capital for his start-up technology company from Wang, according to a U.S. District Court press release. He found Wang and her business, Grand Capital Financial, through her website, which advertised the business as a real estate investment trust and financial lender.

Wang committed to securing up to $200 million for the victim’s business but told him that he first had to deposit $2 million into her account for 30 days to prove to potential investors that the business was solvent, the press release states. If the funding was secured, the deposit would be considered as an advance of her fee. Wang’s contract provided that she would return the $2 million deposit if she couldn’t secure the venture capital within 30 days.

In the next few months, the victim contacted potential lenders, and eventually a Portland resident agreed to make him a short-term loan of $2 million so he could pursue the deal with Wang.

As soon as the money was deposited into Wang’s account, she began to spend it, the press release states. She paid off two personal mortgages, purchased a residence in Texas, bought two vehicles and paid other personal expenses. When Wang failed to secure venture capital, the victim asked for his money back. Wang repeatedly lied that the funding was still in the works and that she still had his initial deposit. However, she never delivered on her promise and never returned the $2 million.