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An Atlanta real estate agent once honored with the Governor’s International Award has admitted defrauding clients out of more than $22 million.
In U.S. District Court on Thursday, Emily Moerdomo Fu pleaded guilty to mail fraud in connection with a scheme that involved embezzlement, inflated sales prices, phantom property sales and unauthorized loans.
The victims were Chinese residents who wanted to invest in commercial real estate here. Fu offered to help them find and buy properties and to manage them, handling all the financials. Properties involved included The Shoppes at Mall of Georgia, Sugarloaf Center in Duluth and retail or medical properties in Buford, Cumming, Alpharetta, Grayson, Norcross, Atlanta and Loganville.
The scheme reportedly began around 2014, when Wanjiong Lin, founder of an LED technology manufacturing company in China, was looking for U.S. investments. His company, Self China, already owned two Atlanta-area businesses. Fu offered to help him find properties to buy, and other Lin family members and friends also invested.
After the investors discovered irregularities in the finances, they confronted Fu, who admitted embezzling some $930,000, according to U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak. Later, the investors discovered she had pocketed about $21 million more through the various schemes over a two-year period, court records say.
“The defendant used her position as a well-regarded Realtor to defraud money from hardworking investors for her own personal financial gain,” said Scott D. Fix, Acting U.S. Postal Inspector in Charge of the Charlotte Division in a news release.
The charge to which she pleaded carries a maximum prison term of 20 years. The plea deal says prosecutors will recommend a lesser sentence. It also calls for her to pay full restitution to all victims, including for the counts dismissed a part of the plea agreement.
Sentencing for Fu, 57, has not been scheduled.
Fu also faces a lawsuit by the investors alleging racketeering.