An ex-Ameriprise representative who ran a Ponzi scheme that scammed 20 of her clients — including some of her own relatives — out of more than $8.1 million was sentenced Jan. 31 to 136 months in federal prison, according to court documents and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California in Los Angeles.
Ameriprise didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Friday. However, the company suspended Li Lin Hsu, 42, of Diamond Bar, California, March 9, 2015, and terminated her on March 27, 2015, for “company policy violations related to maintaining a beneficiary relationship with a client, complaint handling, commingling funds, and conducting business with a foreign client,” according to a disclosure on her profile at the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority’s BrokerCheck website.
Ameriprise also found that Hsu “violated company policies related to … reusing previously submitted client forms,” according to the statement on BrokerCheck.
Hsu, who also goes by the name Yilin Hsu Lee, was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Andrew J. Guilford. The judge also ordered her to pay $5.3 million in restitution to her victims. Hsu had pleaded guilty in February 2019 to one count of wire fraud.
Between February 2014 and May 2018, Hsu “lured in her victims with the promise that she would safely invest their money, [and] gained the trust of her victims — nearly all of whom are members of Southern California’s Chinese community — by speaking to them in their native language and telling them she was part of their community,” according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
However, Hsu wasn’t investing any of her victims’ money, and instead allegedly using their funds to buy homes in Diamond Bar and Irvine, a Tesla car, a vacation at the Peninsula Hotel in Paris, and thousands of dollars’ worth of luxury goods at high-end stores including Harry Winston, Chanel and Hermès.