A Chinese lawyer and her father are accused of conducting a massive EB-5
investor program scam involving defrauding the U.S. visa program while
raking in millions from Chinese investors. Vitoria Chan and her father
Tat Chan are accused of raising over $50 million from Chinese investors
in exchange for obtaining visas under the popular investor program.
Under the EB-5 program, a foreign investor needs to invest at least $500,000
into an American business or project that will create at a minimum 10
jobs per investor. In exchange for the investment, the foreign national
will receive temporary residency, and can eventually apply for permanent
residency for their entire family. Chinese citizens are particularly interested
in the program as a way to offset uncertainty about investing in Chinese
businesses, as well as an opportunity to get their children into prestigious
The couple exploited the EB-5 visa program with the help of a family friend,
raising money from more than 100 Chinese investors, including some who
are wanted fugitives for bribery and other crimes. According to court
documents, the couple allegedly submitted false plans to federal authorities
for projects that did not exist. Records show that most of the money they
received was returned to the investors after receiving visa approval,
with a portion kept by Victoria Chan and her father to fuel their extravagant persona.
The couple skimmed so much money from their scheme that they were able
to live luxurious lifestyles, including expensive cars, an upscale Los
Angeles area office, and numerous multi-million-dollar homes.
Agents from the FBI and Homeland Security conducted raids at the homes
and offices of the Chans, where they ran a business set up in 2008 under
the EB-5 visa program. While the couple has yet to be arrested, investigators
are poring over company records in the hopes of uncovering all of the
financial transactions arranged by the company.
The small office of the Chans - the California Investment Immigration Fund
– operated inside of the Hilton San Gabriel in the San Gabriel Valley
area near Los Angeles. Signs on the outside of the office advertised the
EB-5 investor program, along with other legal services including real
estate investment, insurance, and school admissions.
Investigators have yet to determine if the investors were duped or if they
were complicit in the scheme. With some of the purported investors on
the Chinese government’s list of most-wanted fugitives, authorities
have suspicions that much of the investment may not have been above board.
Some of the investors apparently did not invest their own money but rather
borrowed the capital from the Chans investment fund, allowing them to
fraudulently obtain visas under the program.
The EB-5 program demands that each program participant invests his or her
The investigation took years to complete, and investigators allege that
the Chans opened 72 bank accounts linked to their investment fund or the
numerous holding companies related to it. Some of the money invested in
the fund was used by the Chans to buy personal and business properties.
Investigators uncovered that most of the business properties – vacant
lots – were never developed as claimed by the company. Agents discovered
that around 30 of the investors received at least some of their money
back, yet failed to inform authorities and continued to pursue legal permanent
residence under authority of the EB-5 program.