Thursday, July 30, 2009
By Chris Hubbuch
La Crosse Tribune
Updated: 07/29/2009 08:42:02 AM CDT
Prosecutors say an Onalaska woman invented bogus aid programs to bilk fellow Hmong families out of tens of thousands of dollars over the past two years.
A criminal complaint filed Tuesday in La Crosse County Circuit Court details an elaborate scheme in which victims were told wealthy American sponsors wanted to help struggling Asian families.
Beginning in 2007, Sue Moua, 26, solicited thousands of dollars from people, including her sister-in-law, to enroll them in programs she called "People Helping People" and "Senior Private Helper," the complaint states.
The victims were encouraged to obtain multiple credit cards with the understanding they'd be reimbursed by the anonymous sponsors, according to the complaint. They were told to turn the unopened bills over to Moua, who also said she was authorized to make purchases with the credit cards.
Moua helped one family apply for credit cards because they did not speak much English. The victims told police Moua kept the cards; when they confronted her about nearly $7,500 in purchases she'd made, Moua threatened to put them in jail if they told anyone, according to the complaint.
Moua convinced a couple to give her nearly $41,000 to enroll them in programs with names such as "Grants" and "Airplane," the complaint states. Another woman said she lost more than $20,000.
When questioned by police, Moua said she had gotten involved in the programs while in college, and others had approached her about joining.
Moua said she used e-mail to arrange meetings with sponsors, usually in Hastings, Minn., but the addresses she provided were bogus.
Moua was charged Tuesday with seven counts of felony theft by misrepresentation as well as one count of misdemeanor theft.