Two Los Angeles County residents have been charged for their alleged involvement in an immigration scheme allowing them to illegally obtain $1.5 million from Chinese nationals with the false promise of visas.
34-year-old West Covina resident Nianfei Bu, and 37-year-old Hourong Zhang, from Rowland Heights, were taken into custody on Thursday after purportedly pilfering cash from Chinese nationals in 2015 and 2016.
Bu and Zhang allegedly told seven people that if they invested money in one of several five restaurants of which Bu is the proprietor they would be given visas. The money was allegedly taken from the unknowing investors by Bu and Zhang, but the visas were never produced.
In what has been seen as an attempt to locate other investors, a group of people was reportedly given jobs in order to find and vet others that might be looking for this kind of arrangement as a way to obtain their visas.
The people who worked for the pair as recruiters have claimed that they, too, were the victims of theft. They have purported that they were not compensated for $11,000 worth of the time that they put in on the job.
The defendants, who were reported as being in a relationship, were both taken into custody based on the allegations. They are facing several charges for which they have both pleaded not guilty.
Bu, who could spend a maximum of nearly 15-years incarcerated if found guilty, has been charged with 12 counts of grand theft by fraud for the alleged participation in the false promises of visas for investments. Additional charges of four counts of grand theft were added for the accusations of failure to pay the employees, who reportedly were unaware that their jobs were not legitimate.
Zhang is facing charges for eight counts of grand theft by fraud, and if convicted the penalty could be a maximum sentence of 12-years of incarceration.
Both Bu and Zhang are reportedly still in custody and they are awaiting their scheduled arraignment hearings.
If you or someone you love is suspected of a theft crime, contact Orange County criminal defense lawyer Staycie R. Sena at (949) 477-8088 for a consultation now.