Arcadia woman pleads guilty to $ 23 million fraud scheme
An Arcadia woman pleaded guilty on Tuesday to a federal criminal charge for overseeing a scheme in which she embezzled nearly $ 23 million in funds intended for a hotel and condominium resort in Coachella Valley.
Ruixue “Serena” Shi, 37, has pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud, according to a press release from the Central District of California’s United States Attorney’s Office. Shi has been in federal custody since August 2020.
From November 2015 to July 2018, Shi was the Managing Director of Global House Buyer LLC, a China-based real estate company with an office in Los Angeles. She has identified approximately 47 acres of land in Coachella to build Hyde Resorts and Residences Coachella Valley, according to her plea agreement obtained by the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Shi reached out to representatives from Dakota Development, a real estate development arm of Los Angeles-based lifestyle hotel company SBE Entertainment, about the use of their luxury hotel and nightlife brand. , “Hyde”. During the talks, Shi reached an agreement with Dakota Development whereby Hyde Development would be developed under the SBE brand name “Hyde,” the press release said.
Hyde Resorts was supposed to be a 207-unit luxury resort and condominium with 95,000 square feet of conference facilities, a swimming pool, spa, fitness center, among other amenities.
Shi then solicited investments for the Hyde complex from the victims, the majority of whom were Chinese investors, by making business presentations at hotels and contacting the victims through WeChat, a Chinese messaging, social media and web app. mobile payment.
To convince the victims to invest in the complex, Shi made false and fraudulent statements to them, claiming that their money would only be used to finance the development project, according to the US prosecutor’s office.
“Based on Shi’s false and fraudulent statements, the victims wired him money, mainly from China,” the press release said.
In one case, in October 2016, a victim transferred $ 50,000 from a bank account in China to an account controlled by Shi in Los Angeles.
In total, about $ 22,833,441 was transferred from bank accounts in China to accounts controlled by Shi, officials said.
After receiving money from the victims, Shi spent nearly $ 300,000 on two luxury cars; about $ 2.2 million in a company that provided luxury travel and concierge services; and admitted spending nearly $ 800,000 in victim funds at a full-service styling agency in Beverly Hills, as well as hundreds of thousands of dollars in victim money for high-end clothing designers, restaurants and other stores.
A sentencing hearing is scheduled for March 28, 2022, when Shi will face a legal maximum sentence of 20 years in federal prison.
Suggest a correction