NEW YORK, N.Y. – An accused financial fraudster used backers’ money for a personal and uncommon purpose, prosecutors say: to have his wife’s body cryogenically frozen.
While telling investors he was putting their money in commodities, foreign exchange trading pools and precious metals, Whileon Chay instead used over $150,000 of it on cryogenics after his wife’s roughly 2009 death, Manhattan federal prosecutors said in a fraud indictment unveiled Friday.
Chay’s account of his dealings isn’t yet known: Prosecutors say the 38-year-old fled New York for Peru while under investigation in 2011, and they have been unable to locate him since. Neither he nor any lawyer for him responded to a related civil suit that the federal Commodities Futures Trading Commission filed against him last year.
“Although he has fled the country, these charges against him will persist, and so will our efforts to bring him back to face them,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement Friday.
Chay, 38, solicited more than $5 million from people for investment pools, promising returns around 24 per cent a year and telling them there was “no risk in this activity,” prosecutors said.
Instead, he lost over $2 million of the investors’ money and used much of the rest for luxe personal expenses — one investor noticed Chay drove a different luxury car virtually every time they met — and his wife’s preservation, according to prosecutors.
Prosecutors said Chay bolstered his deceit by sending out bogus account statements and using new investors’ contributions to pay phoney returns to earlier backers.
There was no immediate response Saturday to a message at a phone number possibly once associated with Chay.