A federal grand jury in Seattle has indicted a Tacoma man on 10 counts of wire fraud, alleging that he lied to potential investors to secure more than $6 million.
John Min, 36, frittered away most of the money on bad investments and spent the rest on himself and his family, the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Seattle reported in a news release issued today.
In a separate action, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission also charged Min with violating anti-fraud and registration provisions of the federal securities laws. The SEC complaint seeks “civil injunctions, the return of ill-gotten gains and financial penalties,” according to an SEC news release.
Federal agents arrested Min on Monday evening.
Authorities contend Min operated two companies – DIME Capital LLC and DIME Financial Group LLC – between 2005 and 2008. The companies used fraudulent materials to sell investment opportunities to “churches, charitable givers and senior citizens,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s news release.
Min promised high rates of return – up to 800 percent – trading in currencies, the SEC reported.
He also lured some people by promising that their money would be invested by providing “microloans for the poor,” authorities said.
“Min associated himself with a tight-knit religious and philanthropic community in the Pacific Northwest, creating a not-for-profit entity to attract charitable investors who believed that their investments would support certain Third World aid groups, such as a charity supporting Bolivian widows and orphans,” the SEC reported.
The SEC further contends that Min lost $5 million trading in currencies and spent more than $1 million more to “finance a lavish lifestyle that included a $70,000 Mercedes, expensive vacations and private school tuition for his children.”
Min concealed the fraud by sending phony account statements to investors, federal authorities contend.
“This case serves as an unfortunate reminder that investors need to be wary of possible fraud schemes even when the person offering the investment appears to be part of a humanitarian, religious or other community of trust,” said Marc Fagel, director of the SEC’s regional office in San Francisco.
The Bellingham Herald, citing the FBI, reported on its Web site today that Min was arrested at the U.S.-Canadian border as he attempted to re-enter the United States from Canada.