Prison time for man who defrauded Hmong community with promises of new homeland

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A Twin Cities man promised plots of land to members of the Hmong community in what he said would be the people's new homeland in southeast Asia, defrauding dozens for a more than $1.7 million windfall.

Tuesday, Seng Xiong was sentenced to 87 months in federal prison for his efforts, as well as a more than $1.2 million dollar restitution payment to the victims.

All of this, however, came after days of protests outside the federal courthouse from loyal supporters of Xiong, who stood by their statements that those who gave him money had done so of their own accord.

"I believe those people are from the enemy side," said Dao Moua, one of the many people who rallied to Xiong's defense Wednesday. "All these people here believe that what he did was correct and legal."

In their case, prosecutors outlined a complex system of fraudulent advertising, including YouTube videos and conference calls that promised 10 acres of land, a house, free healthcare and education, as well as financal assistance for anyone over the age of 55. In return, he asked for investments between $3,000 and $5,000, even offering payment plans for anyone who could not afford to pay a lump sum. 

In these Hmong-language advertisements, Xiong often claimed to be working with the White House and the United Nations on this new country, which was slated to be somewhere in southeast Asia.

The St. Paul Police Department and the FBI teamed up on the investigation, which resulted in one count of wire fraud and one count of mail fraud.