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Flushing man scams nearly $630K from seniors living across the U.S.: DA

Mar. 12, 2024 By Bill Parry

A Flushing man is accused of scamming more than $600,000 from seniors across the United States opening bogus corporate bank accounts in Queens to collect stolen money that he used to gamble in an out-of-state casino.

Fei Liang, 39, of 45th Avenue in Flushing, was arraigned in Queens Criminal Court on Friday on a complaint charging him with six counts of criminal possession of stolen property and one count of attempted criminal possession of stolen property.

Liang is alleged to have worked with a co-conspirator who called seniors and claimed to be from the Social Security Administration, their bank, or a vendor. He told the victims their accounts had been compromised and instructed the seniors to wire money to other accounts for “safekeeping,” according to Queens District Attorney Melinda Katz.

“At a time in their lives when they should be able to enjoy the fruits of their hard work, seniors are often victimized by ruthless scammers who leave them in financial ruin,” Katz said.

According to the charges, Liang opened bogus corporate accounts, under the names JMG Aluminum, Inc. and New Century Aluminum, Inc., at three Queens banks: a TD Bank in Flushing, and Capital One and Chase banks in Bayside. Liang listed himself as the president of the aluminum companies.

Between Oct. 2022 and March 2023, wire transfers totaling $628,278.44 were made to Liang’s bank accounts from six victims. On Oct. 5, 2022, a victim in Trumbull, Connecticut wired $190,000 after he received a pop-up message on his computer advising him to call Microsoft at a particular number. When the victim called, he was told that fraudulent activity had been observed on his computer and that his bank account may have been compromised. To safeguard his money, the victim was advised to wire funds to another account — one that had been opened by Liang at a TD Bank in Flushing. That same day, withdrawals were made from the TD account.

On Jan. 31, 2023, a victim from Miami wired $96,300 after he was contacted by an individual purporting to be a Wells Fargo fraud investigator claiming someone had attempted to wire money from his account, which was now “contaminated.” The victim was instructed to wire money to a different account for safekeeping. He sent the money to an account opened by Luang at a Capital One Bank branch in Bayside. The next day, most of the money — $90,522 — was wired to a bank in Hong Kong.

On Feb. 3, 2023, a victim from Port Richey, Florida, wired $48,968.44 to an account Liang had opened at a Capital One branch in Bayside after he was contacted by an individual purporting to be from Amazon saying there were fraudulent purchases on his account. Although the victim did not have an Amazon account, he was told that he would be held liable nonetheless for the fraudulent transactions if he did not wire money to “prove his innocence.” Several transfers from the Capital One account were made to a bank in Hong Kong.

On Mar. 16, 2023, a victim from Hartford, Wisconsin wired $98,000 to an account Liang had opened at a Chase Bank in Bayside after he had been contacted by someone claiming to be from the bank’s fraud department. The caller instructed him to wire money to a “safe account” because his personal information had been compromised. The next day, the money deposited into the Chase account was wired to a China Merchants Bank in China.

On Mar. 16, 2023, a victim from Rancho Santa Margarita, California, wired $98,000 to an account Liang had opened at a Chase Bank in Bayside after she had been contacted by an individual purporting to be from the Social Security Administration who threatened her with arrest if she did not send money. The next day, money was wired from the Chase account to a China Merchants Bank in China.

And on Mar. 30, 2023, a victim from Delray Beach, Florida, wired $97,010 to an account Liang had opened at a Chase branch in Bayside after he was contacted by someone saying they were from the Social Security Administration and that his bank account and Social Security number had been compromised. The caller told the victim that, in order to safeguard his money, he needed to move the money into a different account. Records show that from Mar. 28, 2023, to May 1, 2023, Liang made withdrawals totaling $40,700 from the bogus corporate account he opened with Chase.

On Feb. 25, Liang was arrested in Maryland inside the MGM National Harbor Hotel and Casino, where, records show, he bet more than $2.5 million over a six-month period. On Mar. 7, Liang was extradited to Queens to face charges.

“The defendant is accused of preying on the insecurities of vulnerable individuals who believed their Social Security numbers or other personal accounts had been compromised,” Homeland Security Investigations New York Acting Special Agent-in-Charge Erin Keegan said. “As alleged, his deplorable crimes cost elderly victims upwards of $620,000 before he could be stopped.”

Liang faces up to 15 years in prison if convicted. Judge Jeffrey Gershuny ordered him to return to court on Apr. 10.

“We will continue to aggressively prosecute fraudsters and work to educate the public on how to defend against these predators,” Katz said.

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