MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A man was arrested in California Thursday, accused of scamming Hmong elders in Minnesota by taking thousands of dollars with false promises of a future Hmong homeland in southeast Asia, the U.S. Attorney’s Office says.

Seng Xiong, 48, is charged with wire fraud for operating an affinity fraud scheme.

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The investigation began last September when the Appleton Police Department in Wisconsin received a tip that elderly Hmong men and women were depositing $3,000 to $5,000 into a bank account held in Seng Xiong’s name. Prosecutors say the victims were told the money was payment for 10 acres of land, a house and many other benefits in a future country that would be established as a Hmong homeland.

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Law enforcement officers later learned the donations were operating through the organizations “International Fund for Hmong Development” and “Hmong Tebchaw,” which also operated a website.

Prosecutors say the Hmong Tebchaw website claimed the group was working with the White House and the United Nations to secure land for the deal, and that China, Japan, Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam has all agreed to acknowledge the Hmong people.

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Police are asking anyone who knows anything about the crimes to send an email to the Minnesota Financial Crimes Task Force.