Wisconsin woman accused in scheme to defraud Hmong investors

MILWAUKEE (AP) — A Wisconsin woman is accused of leading a scheme to bilk Hmong-American investors mostly from Minnesota and Wisconsin of at least $16.5 million.

A civil complaint filed Wednesday by the Securities and Exchange Commission charged Kay Yang, 40, of Mequon, of defrauding about 70 investors between April 2017 and April 2021. Her husband, Chao Yang, 47, is charged as a secondary defendant for improperly receiving proceeds of the fraud.

Investigators said the scheme operated in six other states.

“Some of these investors do not speak English as a first language, and some of them were not sophisticated investors,” the complaint said.

Authorities said Kay Yang spent about $1.5 million on real estate, $790,000 on living expenses, $585,000 on travel and $313,000 on luxury vehicles for her and her husband, including a Lexus, Tesla and two BMWs. She had homes in Mequon, Sheboygan, Saukville, as well as Zimmerman, Minnesota.

The couple withdrew about $1.4 million in investor funds, much of it from ATMs at casinos in Milwaukee, Las Vegas, Atlantic City and elsewhere, the complaint said.

The SEC seeks to stop Yang and her husband from working as investors and force them to pay penalties and return money to their investors with interest.

Court documents do not list an attorney for the Yangs.