Fake army foiled in California
Despite his claim of being the “supreme commander” of the Los Angeles area platoon, however, Deng was not affiliated with the military whatsoever.
What Deng was doing, though, was scamming over 100 members of California’s Chinese community by charging dues to members of a made-up army.
Deng was arrested on Tuesday for 13 counts of theft by false pretenses, among other charges, after the FBI investigated the “recruiting center” that he operated out of Temple City, CA. Three years in the making, the inquiry of Deng’s operation began after local police became aware of an influx in counterfeit military IDs during traffic stops, which Deng advised his “troops” would get them out of tickets.
“The people in the community should know this is totally illegal and not patriotic at all,” said area councilman Joaquin Lim to the Los Angeles Times. “They were a disgrace to the Army,” he added.
Deng allegedly charged his recruits upwards of $400 to join his army, additionally billing them $120 annually to renew their membership. In exchange, they received ill-fitting fatigues and ID cards ripe with typos. Regardless, the supposed army marched in local Chinese New Year parades and were prominently featured in area newspapers.
Prosecutors that brought charges against Deng have found evidence of more than 100 recruits duped out of dough, though some in the area estimate the official tally to be eight times that.
Deng’s attorney attests that the supreme commander did not intend to deceive anyone, telling the LA Times that his recruits were honored to feel associated with the military, boasting about their rank when in China.For his actions, Deng was being held on $500,000 bail while awaiting arraignment.
In addition to the over one dozen counts of theft, Deng was charged with manufacturing deceptive government documents, counterfeit of an official government seal and—upon official investigation of his home computer—child pornography. He faces a maximum of 11 years in state prison.