LOS ANGELES - Two people charged with taking $1.5 million from Chinese nationals in an immigration fraud scheme were arrested on May 2, 2019.
Nianfei Bu, aka Allen Bu, 34, of West Covina faces 12 counts of grand theft, eight of which were for taking more than $950 by fraud and four of which were for wage theft valued at more than $950. Hourong Zhang, aka Joanna Zhang, 37, of Rowland Heights is charged with eight counts of grand theft of more than $950 by fraud.
The charges include an allegation of fraud and embezzlement resulting in the loss of more than $500,000.
From November 2015 to March 2016, Bu and Zhang are accused of promising seven Chinese nationals that they could secure visas for them if they invested in one of five restaurants owned by Bu. The defendants, who had been in a relationship, were not attorneys or registered immigration consultants and allegedly did not provide legal or immigration services to the victims as promised.
Bu also is accused of not paying wages in an amount totaling $11,000 owed to employees who he had hired to help contact potential investors. These employees weren’t aware of the illegal nature of the operation, according to the prosecutor in this case.
“Wage theft investigations are conducted by the California Department of Industrial Relations (DIR),” said California Statewide Law Enforcement Association (CSLEA) President Alan Barcelona. “Investigators with DIR know California labor laws and protect workers from theft by employers.”
Bu faces a possible maximum sentence of 14 years and eight months to be served in county jail and state prison if convicted as charged. Zhang faces up to 12 years in jail and prison.
The case remains under investigation by the District Attorney’s Office, Bureau of Investigation, with assistance from the California Department of Industrial Relations.