Emily Fu once was chairwoman of the International Real Estate Council of Georgia, as shown in this 2002 photo, and in 2012 received the Governor’s International Award as individual of the year. (BITA HONARVAR/STAFF)
Every which way she could, an Atlanta real estate agent bilked a group of foreign investors out of millions of dollars, the government alleges in a criminal complaint.
She embezzled some $930,000. Inflated sale prices to pocket another $1.1 million. But the big money, a criminal complaint alleges, came from even more brazen schemes. She fleeced investors of $8 million with phantom property sales, and she got another $8.67 million with unauthorized loans.
Now, Emily Moerdomo Fu — once the winner of the Governor’s International Award — is facing federal charges of mail fraud, wire fraud and money laundering in a scheme that involved commercial properties in Gwinnett and Fulton counties, including The Shoppes at Mall of Georgia.
Fu and her sons also are facing a lawsuit by investors accusing them of racketeering.
The scheme reportedly began around 2014, when Wanjiong Lin, the founder of an LED technology manufacturing company in Ningbo, China, was looking to invest in commercial real estate in the U.S. His company, Self China, already owned two Atlanta-area businesses – Ninglanta Industry and Goldfield Industry – and Fu offered to help Lin and his family members and friends find and buy investment properties here.
Fu said she could manage the properties. She would also handle all the financials.
She helped set up investment companies on the investors’ behalf and opened bank accounts, as investors sent millions, the lawsuit says. They thought they had purchased nine properties, including retail centers in Buford, Cumming, Duluth, Alpharetta, Grayson and Norcross, and medical buildings in Norcross, Atlanta and Loganville.
Late last year, the scheme began to unravel, according to the lawsuit.
+ This screen grab from Self Electronics’ website shows founder Wanjiong Lin
After some unspecified incidents, the Lins became suspicious of Fu and decided to get someone else to manage the properties. When they met with her in November to begin that change, she admitted taking about $930,000 from bank accounts, the lawsuit claims. She apologized and promised to return the funds, but never showed up to a subsequent meeting where she was to review account information.
The Lins then learned that a past due notice had arrived concerning a loan payment on the Shoppes at Brannon – a Cumming property the investors had wired $15 million to buy in an all-cash transaction.
That wasn’t all. The Lins discovered Fu had taken out loans on at least two of the other properties without their knowledge. What’s more, the Lins discovered that the purchase price of at least three properties had been artificially inflated.
The final blow: The investors discovered that they did not own three properties they had paid millions to buy: Sugarloaf Center in Duluth; North Atlanta Primary Care in Atlanta; and Eastside Digital Imaging in Loganville. The lawsuit contends that Fu had no intention to execute the purchases and instead intended to convert the funds to her personal use.
The Lins then contacted the FBI and filed their suit citing violations of federal and state RICO laws. Fu was arrested in late January and released on bond secured by her sons. Her travel was restricted to Georgia, and she was ordered to have no contact with victims.
Both cases are pending in U.S. district court here.