Release Number 8720-23

Federal Court Orders Wisconsin Resident and Her Companies to Pay More than $24 Million for Forex Fraud Targeting Local Hmong Community

June 15, 2023

Washington, D.C. — The Commodity Futures Trading Commission today announced the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin on June 5 entered an order of default judgment and permanent injunction against Kay Yang (Yang) of Mequon, Wisconsin and her companies, AK Equity Group LLC (AK Equity) and Xapphire LLC (Xapphire), for fraud in connection with retail foreign currency (forex) transactions that targeted the local Hmong community.

The order requires Yang, AK Equity, and Xapphire to pay $13,692,690.27 in restitution to defrauded victims and a $10,387,635.91 civil monetary penalty. Additionally, the order requires Yang’s husband, relief defendant Chao Yang, of Mequon, Wisconsin, to pay $1,422,430.42 in disgorgement. 

Additionally, the order states, Yang, AK Equity, and Xapphire are permanently enjoined from engaging in conduct that violates the Commodity Exchange Act (CEA), as charged, registering with the CFTC, and trading in any CFTC-regulated markets.

The order finds Yang and her companies are liable for fraud in connection with retail forex transactions, fraud by a commodity pool operator (CPO) and an associated person of a CPO, and registration violations. The order further finds relief defendant Chao Yang received $1.4 million, which was derived from the fraud.

The order resolves the CFTC’s enforcement case against Yang, AK Equity, Xapphire, and relief defendant Chao Yang. [See CFTC Press Release No. 8513-22]

Case Background

The order, entered on June 5, stems from a CFTC complaint filed on April 13, 2022. The order finds that from approximately April 2017 through March 2020, Yang, individually and as the founder and chief executive officer of AK Equity and Xapphire, engaged in a fraudulent scheme through which she solicited and received at least $15.7 million from approximately 67 individuals or entities for participation in a commodity pool that purported to trade forex. Most pool participants were members of the Hmong community in Wisconsin. In soliciting funds, the defendants made several false representations and material omissions. The defendants also misappropriated at least $4.8 million of pool participants’ funds and spent that money on Yang’s personal expenses, including spending nearly $1.4 million at casinos and on luxury hotels and cars.

The CFTC cautions that orders requiring payment of funds to victims may not result in the recovery of any money lost because wrongdoers may not have sufficient funds or assets. The CFTC will continue to fight vigorously for the protection of customers and to ensure wrongdoers are held accountable.   

The CFTC thanks the National Futures Association, the Securities and Exchange Commission, and the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions for their assistance in this matter. The CFTC also appreciates the assistance of the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, the Securities Commission of The Bahamas, the Swedish Financial Supervisory Authority (Finansinspektionen), and the UK Financial Conduct Authority.

The Division of Enforcement staff members responsible for this case are Kyong J. Koh, Lauren E. Bennett, Jonah E. McCarthy, Paul G. Hayeck, and former staff member Luke B. Marsh.

CFTC’s Foreign Currency (Forex) Fraud Advisory

The CFTC has issued several customer protection Fraud Advisories and Articles that provide the warning signs of fraud, including the Foreign Currency (Forex) Trading Fraud Advisory, which alerts customers to forex fraud and lists simple ways to spot forex scams.

The CFTC also strongly urges the public to verify a company’s registration with the CFTC before committing funds. If unregistered, a customer should be wary of providing funds to that entity. A company’s registration status can be found using 

Customers and other individuals can report suspicious activities or information, such as possible violations of commodity trading laws, to the Division of Enforcement via a toll-free hotline 866-FON-CFTC (866-366-2382), file a tip or complaint online, or contact the Whistleblower Office. Whistleblowers are eligible to receive between 10 and 30 percent of the monetary sanctions collected paid from the Customer Protection Fund financed through monetary sanctions paid to the CFTC by violators of the CEA.