How a race-car driver was conned out of $20 million in elaborate scam
Over the span of a decade, Hong Kong businessman and race-car driver Jacky Yeung invested in buildings, a journey company and rare-earth mines, to the tune of $20 million, in keeping with courtroom paperwork. But the one dividend he obtained? A bruised ego.
Yeung was the goal of an elaborate lengthy con that noticed him wined and dined from Dubai to the South of France. The scam concerned pretend authorities officers, attractive blondes and even a motorcade. It was perpetrated by Valentyn Belan, a small-time Ukrainian swindler with massive ambitions.
This previous October, Belan, 39, pleaded responsible to wire fraud and was sentenced by a US District Court in New York City to 9 years in jail. In a letter to Judge Gregory H. Woods, prosecuting legal professional Geoffrey S. Berman wrote that Belan’s “fraud was stunning and brazen in its scope.”
This saga started in Kherson, Ukraine, the place Belan managed a so-called marriage company — primarily a service designed to hook up international, typically prosperous males with potential brides.
In 2008, a golden goose fell into Belan’s lap when, in keeping with a protection sentencing memo, Yeung “arrived in Ukraine possibly looking for a bride but also quickly engaged Mr. Belan about potential investment opportunities.”
(Yeung’s legal professional strongly denied his consumer was searching for a spouse.)
Belan charmed the racer into investing in a journey company. A yr later, Yeung had additionally purchased seven buildings and a sports activities area for some $9 million.
None of the properties had been truly bought.
But Belan stored Yeung on the hook by wiring him round $50,000, which the Ukrainian claimed was rental revenue, every month.
Next, Belan pressed Yeung into investing in a rare-earth mine, which would supply metals for digital units. Again, it was solely a figment of the scammer’s creativeness.
And what an creativeness it was. To persuade Yeung of his credibility, Belan in 2010 organized a motorcade for the driver in Ukraine and launched him to a authorities minister at her property. She was, in reality, a lady Belan had employed to play the function; the house was a resort.
Belan additionally introduced in a bogus fellow investor who introduced paperwork that claimed she had purchased into the rare-earth enterprise for round $500,000.
Yeung — who one insider described as “into racing and living large and looking for opportunities” — fell for all of it.
In the summer season of 2010, Belan and Yeung traveled to Dubai to work on a deal for a mine. There the driver was launched to the (non-existent) authorities minister’s daughter, who Belan claimed was a Yale graduate. Yeung questioned why this Ivy Leaguer spoke no English. According to courtroom paperwork, Belan stated she “did not need to learn [it] because she had studied Russian literature.”
From 2011 to 2013, Yeung wired a whole of $four.5 million to Belan’s checking account. The driver claims he bought his house and his Bentley and McLaren luxurious autos to unlock funds.
By 2014, Belan satisfied Yeung to promote a constructing he owned in order to fund one other mining funding. Belan even supplied “buyers” for the constructing, saying they’d straight pay Belan, who would use the money to buy mine shares.
As proof of the sale, Belan despatched Yeung a photograph of himself with stacks of money. But no consumers existed; as a substitute, the transferred possession of the $13 million constructing went to Belan.
“The buyers, the bank statements and even the cash pictured . . . were all fake,” Berman wrote to Woods.
“The buyers, the bank statements and even the cash were fake.”
– Attorney Geoffrey S. Berman
The charade fell aside because of Belan’s girlfriend, Olena Chumachenko.
By the spring of 2018, that relationship had turned rocky; a supply characterised it as “tumultuous.”
In July of that yr, Belan took their two younger sons to LA with out Chumachenko’s consent. Weeks later, the trio made it to Manhattan, the place Chumachenko caught up and filed a Hague Convention motion (designed to resolve worldwide kidnapping circumstances).
There, Belan refused to let Chumachenko see their youngsters. So she retaliated.
“To put pressure on Val, Olena called Jacky . . . [and told him] that Val had stolen their children and was not allowing her to see them,” stated the supply. “Jacky asked Olena about his investments, including the mines. Olena told Jacky she had no idea what he was talking about and that Val did not invest in mines.”
Jacky lastly suspected that he’d been had and the Southern District of New York prosecutor’s workplace was contacted.
At Belan’s sentencing, protection legal professional Florian Miedel insisted that Yeung and Belan’s relationship is “complicated, ambiguous, multifaceted.”
But it got here all the way down to old-school crafty and a naivete.
As per Miedel: “Mr. Yeung . . . [was] blinded by opportunities that might have appeared to be too good to be true.”