NEW YORK (Reuters) - Two men from the New York City borough of Queens were arrested on Thursday and charged with causing roughly $1.1 million of losses in a currency fraud targeting Korean-American investors.
U.S. prosecutors accused Tae Hung “Kevin” Kang, 55, of Bayside, and John Won, 49, of Flushing, of “preying upon the kinship of their target group” by enticing victims to invest in or open accounts with their company, Forexnpower.
Both defendants pleaded not guilty at an afternoon hearing in Brooklyn federal court.
Prosecutors said Kang and Won overstated their trading expertise and falsely touted how their “Aset” and “Super Power-Bot” algorithmic trading methods would generate big returns.
According to the indictment, some investors were enticed by ads in Korean-language newspapers offering “a secret trading method generating more than 10% monthly profit” and the chance “to make $1 million and more within three to five years.”
Victims allegedly lost more than $700,000 investing in Forexnpower, which was also known as Safety Capital Investment Inc, and nearly $400,000 in trading accounts, with some money misappropriated to attract new investors.
The alleged schemes ran from 2010 to 2013.
Kang and Won were charged with securities fraud, and conspiracies to commit securities fraud, wire fraud and money laundering, while Kang was also charged with wire fraud.
The wire fraud conspiracy charge carries a maximum 20-year prison term.
Both defendants were released on $100,000 bond after entering their pleas. Kang’s lawyer Richard Willstatter and Won’s lawyer Michael Schneider declined to comment.
In 2015, the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission filed related civil charges against both defendants. That case remains pending, court records show.
The cases are U.S. v. Kang et al, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York, No. 18-cr-00184; and CFTC v Kang et al in the same court, No. 15-05551.
Reporting by Jonathan Stempel in New York; Editing by Leslie Adler and Richard Chang