US Attorney Office Warns Of ‘Chinese Inheritance’ Scam

SAN JOSE – LAWFUEL – The Legal Newswire – United States Attorney Scott N. Schools announced that Shiu Chau Wang, also known as Alex Wang, has pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering. The plea was entered before United States District Judge Jeremy Fogel.

In pleading guilty, Mr. Wang admitted that in April 2006 he asked a friend for a $600,000 loan, stating that his grandfather in China had left him a $10-12 million inheritance but that Wang needed the money to pay a tax to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security before the inheritance could be released. The friend agreed to lend Wang $370,000, but asked Wang and his wife to post their home as security. Wang agreed, and told his friend that there was sufficient equity in the home to serve as collateral for the loan. On May 2, 2006, Wang and his wife met with the victim and signed a $370,000 promissory note and a deed of trust as security for the loan. However, the day before that May 2nd meeting, Wang and his wife had closed on a refinancing of their home. As a result of the refinancing, there was no longer sufficient equity in the home to serve as full collateral for the $370,000 loan. After obtaining the funds from his friend, Wang sent the money to a bank in Taiwan.

Mr. Wang, age 53, and his wife, Stella Wang Chu, age 52, were indicted by a federal Grand Jury on April 4, 2007. They were charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371, four counts of wire fraud in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1343, conspiracy to launder monetary instruments in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1956(h) and one count of money laundering in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1957(a).

Stella Wang Chu was offered pretrial diversion. A condition of diversion was that she agree to be jointly and severally liable with her husband to make restitution to the victim.

United States Attorney Scott N. Schools had this to say about the plea: “This is a very tragic set of circumstances. Arguments presented to the court suggest that Mr. Wang may himself have been a victim of the so-called ‘Chinese inheritance scam.’ According to the FBI, this fraudulent scheme, in which a victim is told that he or she has received an inheritance from a relative in China, but before receiving it must pay an ‘inheritance tax’ to the United States government, is particularly common in this area. The targets are almost exclusively Chinese persons. Anyone who receives such a communication should seek appropriate legal or banking counsel before sending the caller any money or providing any bank account information. Persons who have been victimized by this scam are urged to contact their local police department or the FBI.”

Mr. Wang is scheduled to be sentenced on January 9, 2008, before Judge Jeremy Fogel in San Jose. The maximum statutory penalty for money laundering in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1957(a) is 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.

Carlos Singh is the Assistant U.S. Attorney who is prosecuting the case with the assistance of Tracey Andersen. The prosecution is the result of a six-month investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigations.

Further Information:

Case #:CR-07-00190-JF

A copy of this press release may be found on the U.S. Attorney’s Office’s website at

Electronic court filings and further procedural and docket information are available at

Judges’ calendars with schedules for upcoming court hearings can be viewed on the court’s website at

All press inquiries to the U.S. Attorney’s Office should be directed to Natalya LaBauve at (415) 436-7055 or by email at

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