Meet Larry and Grace Hong, both “full-time professional day traders.” A married couple living in the upscale, tony neighborhood of Clyde Hill, Washington. They live the life of dreams. A 9,000 square foot mansion; a 45-foot yacht; multiple high-end vehicles, such as BMW’s, a Maserati, a Lamborghini; lavish vacations all over the world; expensive and extravagant birthday parties for their children.
All because of the amazing ability to quickly buy and sell futures contracts. With their super-secret trading indicators, they are masters of the day trading world. Everyone wants to be like them. Have a look at their dream lifestyle…
Doesn’t it all look so perfect? Wouldn’t you like to be able to be able to “micro-scalp” futures all day, earning millions of dollars each year? Living the dream.
Of course, we have seen this sort of fantasy lifestyle before. Whether it be the stories of Timothy Sykes and how he supposedly turned his Bar Mitzvah money into $4.3 million dollars overnight day trading penny stocks. Or his supposed students, earning millions of dollars after purchasing ‘secret wisdom’ from an investment DVD. Or Cameron Fous and his supposed millions of dollars in trading profits, with expensive cars and beautiful women on yachts, and parties with adulating fans. Or Ross Cameron whom supposedly was an Architect that was never an Architect and turned $1k into $500k in a few months by day trading. Or Kunal Desai the douchebag with his sports cars and fake hedge fund suckering in the naive and financially desperate.
Or Infinite Prosperity, or Market Traders Institute, or Anton Kreil the ‘super-investor’ and his personal rocket ship–you get the picture.
All of this ‘lifestyle marketing’ or what I like to call trader porn. Where you create the illusion of success with cars, mansions, yachts, private jets, jewelry, bundles of cash, exotic vacations, and of course pictures of unlimited shrimp cocktail.
All of these shiny objects were obtained by investing with a supposed magical trading indicator, trading system, day trading educational package, or a supposed hedge fund promising 2,000% monthly returns.
Larry And Grace Hong, the Day Trading Fraudsters
Now let’s talk about Larry and Grace Hong. On the surface, they look so amazing together, a picturesque family. This day trading, dynamic duo. All of it looked so wonderful. Except it was all a fraud. The supposed day trading profits were all a con.
On June 8, 2017, the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, Department of Justice, and the Federal Bureau of Investigations lowered the boom. Both Larry and Grace were handcuffed and taken to jail for investment fraud. The size of the fraud appears to be about $11,000,000.
How did they execute the fraud? By attending churches throughout Washington and California, they befriended the Pastor and convinced the Pastor to invest in their supposed day trading, investment advisory. Once the Pastor was hooked with falsified trading results, they would then convince the Pastor to lead his flock directly into the financial slaughterhouse.
Larry and Grace would get up in front of the church goers, pray to Jesus, hold hands and cry out to the Lord, and then make their sales pitch of day trading glory and amazing investment returns.
Amazingly, the pastor even proclaimed that anyone that had invested $1 million in 2001, by 2011, would now have over $57 million dollars. Anointing the fraudsters with precious oil–snake oil.
Of course, the dipshit Pastors, with the respect, trust, and admiration of the flock were all too happy to help distribute the promotional materials and financial documents that churchgoers had to complete in order to invest in the scheme. Sort of like a reverse tithe.
The flock, unwittingly allowed Grace and Larry Hong the ability to trade on their behalf, through their individual investment accounts. Of course, massive losses ensued. One person lost $100k in a single day. Another person lost $300k on a single trade.
To make matters worse, Grace and Larry Hong included fine print in the investment contract which allowed them to withdraw 25% of the account balance, as a quarterly performance and management fee. And this was regardless of whether the account was profitable or not. Think about this a moment…churchgoers signed a contract, with the blessings and encouragement of the Pastor, allowed Grace and Larry Hong to withdraw 25% every quarter, regardless of the investment performance. Is this the craziest thing you have ever read? Apparently, all true.
This is “drinking the Kool-Aid” as its finest!
As crazy as this all sounds, it gets even stranger. Thanks to the helpful folks at the Department Of Justice, they provided TradingSchools.Org with a deeper history and understanding of Larry Hong, aka Laurence Hong, aka Lawrence Hung, aka Sung Hung, also known as a repeat offender and serial financial rapist.
Apparently, “Lawrence” began his day trading investment fraud as far back as 1997 where he ripped off his mothers’ accountant for $100,000 in a day trading scheme named Republic Investment.
In 2001, Larry Hong bilked a Korean-American family and another person he met at a local church in Bellevue Washington for $200,000. You guessed it, another day trading scam.
And finally, in 2007, the FBI arrested Hong for fraud and extortion for bilking his retired next door neighbor for $800,000. You guessed it, another day trading investment scam.
What happened to the $800,000 that Hong scammed from his elderly, retired neighbor? A 32-foot yacht; a down payment for a multimillion dollar lakefront mansion; and several luxury sports cars. Simply amazing.
The judge wasn’t impressed. In 2008, Hong was sentenced 33 months in Federal Prison.
History Repeats Itself
After being released in 2011, Hong gets out of Federal Prison and what does he do? Goes right back to local churches and starts befriending any Pastor willing to listen to his potent mixture of day trading investment skills and loyal devotion to Jesus. In fact, Jesus played an integral part in his supposed trading ability. God was using him to shower riches upon the Pastor and his flock. So he said.
Like all Ponzi schemes, the day of collapse inevitably arrives. And subsequently, Larry Hong is back in jail. Where he belongs.
Wrapping Things Up
Thanks for taking the time to read this story. I wanted to thank Alison Grande of Kiro7 local news located in Seattle, Washington. Alison reported on this story and produced the following video that briefly details the scam.
Also, I wanted to thank the Department of Justice for providing useful tips on what I should write about, providing a back story on Larry and Grace Hong, and helping to distribute this story to a wider audience. Hopefully, the story gains traction beyond just the local news in Seattle.
Thanks for reading, would love to read your opinion below.
The eternal money machine: Jesus and a slick talker on a Sunday afternoon. Like the old saying, “Jesus saves, Moses invests”.
The local doj report and fbi contact info for the case here.
They thought they were conning people but it a “slow motion” they were conning their own selves. Nothing slick about their trick, nothing brilliant or creative and they knew the high probabilities of getting caught and given this would be his second offense, probably a long jail sentence and permanent kick out of the securities industry. Worst, they would see their kids shift from one foster/relative home to other and come out broken and shaken in the world and turn sociopaths themselves. Also foolish were the investors who did not read the every single details of forms and gave away 100s of thousands to con couple.
Can you imagine the life of those children? Where will they go? Relatives? Foster homes? They are innocent little people. You don’t get to pick your parents.
And what about the children of the victims? Their lives are affected as well.
The psycho scumbag duo seemed to believe their own lies so much they were completely out of touch of the reality of what could happen to their kids when the shtf day of the law comes. The guy out of jail restarts his scam in a worse way in 2011 and the kids are practically toddlers and I feel sorry for them. Still, in the news video you can see the Hongs’ scammy minds leak out in their slips of the tongue on the pulpit, perhaps a sign. i.e. “premise(of the scam).. er. “->motivation. “con those close to you”.
If I was a betting man my guess is the kids go to close relatives sister or brother and that these con artist have plenty of money they hid away in secret trust controlled by an LLC trustee that is a family member.
Most probably the con couple did good research on how much jail time he will get and then hid some decent cash to use once out of the slammer after say 5-7 years. Such people are like drug dealers, they not only hurt their client but also shock and traumatize the lives of those around the client like wife and kids.
You read my mind. The kid’ll be set and a big chunk of it will still be waiting for mom and dad when they get out.
I don’t know, I’m of the opinion the the clawbacks by the angry mob will be highly radioactive and the duo used client money liberally like Wasendorf. . They seemed to be relative nobodies with little connections. The news lady said the kids went to some public care, not the grandparents or relatives so I think the feds are strongly all over this one.
Amit ” Also foolish were the investors who did not read the every single details of forms and gave away 100s of thousands to con couple.” I can offer a possible reason why they didn’t and why I’m not surprised that they didn’t question this “it sounds too good to be true” investment. They’re church goers so they’ve already swallowed one lot of malarkey without engaging any critical thought. Selling a suspicious investment to people who have already demonstrated they’ll believe anything is the logical choice, they are the perfect marks, they actually want to be sheep.
Well, pretty much what I was going to say, but being the pendejo coward that I am, and not wanting to be insulted and downvoted for daring to criticize they that would insist on partaking of the “opium of the masses”, I desisted. 🙂
Thanks for making the post for us. LOL.
I can not help but think there might is a bigger picture issue leading to all this foolishness and as usual I blame the Govt for false promises.
People now think they have this God given right to retire at 65 and then live to be 105 or 40 years on the Govt or in case of Defined Benefit pensions the corporate dole. Literally spending more years on the dole than the years they spent working. It was a system designed for failure. The lucky few who got these great Defined Benefit pensions are laughing all the way to the bank as it would cost million to buy an equivalent annuity. But corporation have / are dumping them as no one can afford them. Only the Gov’t is still stupid enough to still offer them. Heck my wife just switched to a Gov’t jump to work her last few years to get that golden egg defined pension. And I tell everyone to do the same. There is no return on the planet that will beat it.
If people expect to retire at 65 and live another 40 years they would have to put a hell of lot more money into investing. More like 50% or more of their salary.
Yet they don’t and then they turn to the almighty to protect them and then walks in the con artist promising fantasy returns. Sorry he/she is not going to protect you.
The fact is with Today’s incredible low interest rates you have to have a lot more money to be able to retire. Back when you could get a safe 8% bond you could have $500K make $40K in interest plus have you SS and do OK. But now with 10 year bonds at 2%, I have no idea how all these baby boomer who have saved nothing plan to retire and live off SS.
And of top of that; just a generation ago people had 5 or more kids to take care of them in their old age. Now many have none. So who is going to take care of them and if they have to go to a nursing home it is $10 or so a month. Who the hell can afford that?
I think this macro factor is a big part of the problem leading to desperation and when there is desperation there is always the con artist there to solve the problem.
Terribly disgusting display of the worst aspects of the day trading scam hustle. As bad or worse than “Trading for Jesus” and a prime candidate for the American Greed show. Moreover, the guy was already indicted and sentenced for prior fraud and got away with even worse fraud for some more years. Interesting to hear of involvement with local news, the DoJ and the feds with this review and tradingschools. I bet the shills and other scam vendors are ducking under their simshow pc tables as they realize the extent of the fed and regulators’ involvement with tradingschools. Also to blame are the compromised forums and shilled “review” sites such as investiscamma that have promulgated only the possible positives of day trading and never covering the losses or outright fraud. 100k , or 300k loss in a single session. That could only mean ignorant average downing of half or more of a big retail trading account, where trading discussion forums rarely inform as the the #1 cause of most busting of retailer accounts except a few threads in elite in years past. This is a case of a gambler becoming out of control psycho, and having access to too much money disgustingly from parishioners and neighbors who have no idea how dangerous and simple retail daytrading is accessible on a computer screen like a slot machine yet they are sold a fraud of the couple supposedly being former wall st. professionals on a church pulpit no less. Nicholas Cosmo of Agape World was average downing and losing a million a day-trading futures trying to make back his ponzi fund losses and he was also sentenced previously of defrauding investors.
A similar cycle of investment fraud of upper middle class investors and millionaires. Good recap of the more colorful trader-pawn shamshows. Exactly, is Sykes’ mansion and choosing cars with his next girlfriend from millionaire trading profits, or profits from selling sham dreams in whatever affiliated shilled endeavors. or hilarious ivy league talk about day trading.
I think this is a good start to your book, “Day Trading and the Biggest Scam Ever and the Regulators who Did Nothing (or very little)”.
It is a sad comment on mankind. Are we really this dumb to be fooled so easily?
The regulators and law enforcement definitely care. But they are reactionary, not preemptive. So these sorts of crimes need to run for awhile, while evidence is collected and complaints are accumulated. Like catching cockroaches in a burning house.
And the sheer amount of these sorts of financial scams is rampant. The internet creates a disjointed and geographically fractionalized environment. Difficult to establish jurisdiction and coordination between state securities regulators, federal civil regulators (CFTC), and federal criminal (FBI), and state criminal. Much overlap.
But I can guarantee that they care. And justice is going to be served. Ever notice that lady justice carries a big fucking sword?
I can’t understand how people would agree to pay exorbitant fees to unproven investors because a pastor recommended them or vouched for them. This couple should spend the next 30 years behind bars and if they get out, they have to pay back every penny from their minimum wage job. They are despicable, deplorable, and a sad excuse for a human being. Moreover, using religion to conceal their nefarious ways is as low as one can go. I have learned that when I had business dealings with individuals that put God front and center when we talked business, it usually would indicate there was something to hide. People continue to prove why this business should be approached with extreme caution. One must go through extreme vetting when ever dealing with a supposed day trader.
They curated that outrageous social media profile, with fancy vacations, family photos, the whole enchilada. People looked at that social media, the endorsement of the Pastor, and they just fell all over themselves.
And there might have been a racial bias that lent credibility to the scam. The Hong’s just look like the stereotypical “smart” asians? Whom would have expected that someone that looked to harmless, could be so deceptive and destructive? Crazy.
If you are going to be a scammer….
#1… make sure you have NO SOUL or in other words, are a sociopath
#2 … Go where the most gullible people are…
– Senior Citizens
#3… tell a compelling story that pulls at BOTH heartstrings AND GREED
WASH, RINSE, REPEAT
“I have learned that when I had business dealings with individuals that put God front and center when we talked business, it usually would indicate there was something to hide.”
Never suppose to bring up religion but that statement is my experience “to a T”. I could give a million examples, but I will give one example that is along these lines. This person was trying to get a friend of mine to invest in something that made no financial sense to me what so ever. And I am asking him have you seen any actual proof of his claims or digging into the financial documents to understand what you are actually investing it. And his response is and I am not kidding you, “Well I have seen him give 10% (I forget the exact amount) of his salary to the church”. This had nothing to do with church or religion. And I like what the hell does that have to do with anything? But apparently that was more important than any actual facts. Who knows if this person even gave 10%, it might have been an illusion to sucker in the weak minded. Bottom line – People are ridiculously gullible! So why not get financial advice from your Pastor who probably could not tell your the difference in common stock from preferred stock from the company bond issue.
The reminds me of Valdemar Kongzana, Kongzana Trading. The guy would roam Bible study groups in Ohio, flat ripping people off in the name of the Lord.