Chicago man accused of defrauding Chinese families out of millio - FOX 35 News Orlando

Chicago man accused of defrauding Chinese families out of millions

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CHICAGO (Sun-Times Media Wire) - A young Chicago conman defrauded wealthy Chinese families out of $11 million by offering them a path to U.S. citizenship, a indictment filed Wednesday alleges.

The feds say Anshoo Sethi, 30, promised Chinese nationals they'd qualify for a visa if they invested heavily in a $912 million hotel and convention center complex near O'Hare Airport, the Chicago Sun-Times is reporting.

The hotel was never built — but Sethi looted the funds he'd raised to bankroll the purchase of luxury goods for himself, his family and his pals, it's alleged.

And Sethi allegedly persisted with the scheme long after the hotel chains he claimed were associated with the project — Hyatt, Starwood, and Intercontinental Hotel Group — had cut ties with him.

He also allegedly falsely claimed he had secured state and federal government funding for the project, which he said would be built on three acres of land east of the airport at 8201 West Higgins Rd.

In all, he raised approximately $160 million from 290 investors before a whistleblower brought him down. Under a recently settled civil lawsuit brought by the Securities and Exchange Commission, $147 million will be returned to investors.

Prosecutors say they are now trying to hold Sethi criminally liable for the remaining $11 million in “administrative fees” he allegedly collected, all of which is gone.

His attorney, Patrick Collins, did not return calls seeking comment Wednesday.

The case shines a light on the controversial so-called “cash for visas” program, under which foreigners who invest at least $500,000 in a domestic project that creates or preserves 10 U.S. jobs in a high unemployment or rural area can gain legal residency.

Backers say the program is a way of helping struggling communities finance job-growth.

But critics say it has patchy results and is open to abuse.

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