SANTA ANA, Calif. (CN) – The chairman of an Irvine-based investment firm and his girlfriend were arrested Tuesday and charged with running an $8 million Ponzi scheme that targeted Korean-Americans throughout California.
Euirang Hwang is the founder and chairman of Pinupito Inc., an investment company. His girlfriend, Sang Yi, a South Korean citizen, was president and secretary of the company. The two were arrested in their home in Corona, Calif.
According to a four-count indictment, the two promised investors yearly returns of between 24 and 45 percent of their investment, and falsely told investors that Pinupito was a billionaire who owned 60 companies in Korea, Japan and China. They also falsely claimed they generated income by buying smaller companies in Korea, growing them and selling them off, according to the indictment.
Instead of investing the money, prosecutors say the two wired investors’ money to a family member in Korea and used it to pay for luxury car leases, personal expenses and returns to existing investors, prosecutors said.
The pair targeted about 60 Korean-Americans, many of whom were found during meetings at Korean-language churches, according to the indictment.