LOS ANGELES (AFP) – A Chinese man was arraigned on charges relating to his "recruitment" of Chinese men living in the United States into a fictitious US army unit.
Yupeng Deng, 51, duped more than 100 Chinese immigrants into paying him to join a fake unit he called the "US Army/Military Special Forces Reserve unit."
Deng, also known as David Deng, was the phony unit's "Supreme Commander." He began the scam in 2008, according to the Los Angeles District Attorney's office.
Deng, who lives in the El Monte area of Los Angeles, promised his "recruits" that belonging to his unit would eventually lead to US citizenship.
The "recruits" in turn paid him between 300 and 400 dollars to join, and an additional 120 dollars a year to maintain their membership.
The "soldiers" could rise in rank by increasing their donations, said Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Richard Ceballos.
Deng gave his men uniforms and fake military identity documents, and conducted drills and military-style training.
The "recruits" even participated in a parade and visited a military museum in San Diego dressed in their uniforms, according to the prosecutor's office.
Deng was arrested Tuesday, and is being held on $500,000 bail. He now faces 13 felony counts, including including obtaining money, labor or property by false pretenses, and providing false documents.
Deng is also being prosecuted for possession of child pornography, which investigators found on his personal computer when they carried out a home search.