Two Oyster Bay residents were arrested Monday in connection with an elaborate, $27 million investment scheme, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Eastern District of New York.
Sherry Xue Li, 50, and Lianbo “Mike” Wang, 45, both of Oyster Bay, allegedly made a variety of fraudulent claims that targeted foreign nationals. Federal officials say the defendants took investors’ money for a fake real estate property, made illegal political campaign donations, and promised victims green cards and access to politicians in exchange for money.
“As alleged, the defendants enticed their victims to invest in a fraudulent scheme aided by misleadingly claiming that their fictitious project had the support of prominent politicians,” stated EDNY United States Attorney Breon Peace. “The defendants were able to perpetrate this fraud by then selling access to U.S. politicians by unlawfully contributing foreign money to political campaigns in their own names and bringing foreign nationals as their guests to fundraising events. This office is committed to protecting our democratic process from those who would expose it to unlawful foreign influence, and investors from the predatory fraudsters who would steal their money.”
Li and Wang are charged with wire fraud conspiracy, money laundering conspiracy, and conspiracy to defraud the United States by obstructing the Federal Election Commission’s administration of campaign finance laws.
The defendants allegedly created the lie that they were building an educational center in Sullivan County called Thompson Education Center (the TEC Project) and instead used investors’ money for the bogus project to pay for vacations, housing, clothes, fine dining, and jewelry, as well as significant campaign contributions to prominent U.S. politicians, including then-President Donald Trump. They claimed to foreign nationals that the investments would grant them U.S. citizenship.
Li and Wang also allegedly used the investment money to attend high-profile political fundraising events, get photos with politicians, and use the photos to convince more people to invest in their real estate project. About 150 people gave the duo money totaling about $27 million.
The pair were set to be arraigned on Monday at the federal courthouse in Brooklyn. Their attorney information was not immediately available.