East Bay man charged with running 39 million dollar Ponzi scheme


Date: May 2, 2023

Contact: newsroom@ci.irs.gov

A federal grand jury indicted Derek Vincent Chu, charging him with crimes related to an alleged $39 million Ponzi scheme involving over 100 victims, on April 26, 2023, announced United States Attorney Ismail J. Ramsey, Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation (IRS-CI) Special Agent in Charge Darren Lian, and FBI Special Agent in Charge Robert K. Tripp.

According to the indictment, between late 2013 and 2020, Chu, of Alamo, Calif., used several companies to raise $39 million by fraudulently soliciting investments in the purchase and resale of professional basketball tickets and luxury suites at Oracle Arena, in Oakland, California; the Staples Center, in Los Angeles, California; and the Chase Center, in San Francisco, California. The indictment further alleges that Chu induced investors by making numerous materially false misrepresentations, including how the investor funds would be used, how investors would be repaid, and whether the investments were secured by collateral. 

According to the allegations in the indictment, Chu commingled the investors’ money between his own personal accounts and his companies’ accounts, which resulted in investor money being used to repay other, earlier investors, and for other unrelated expenses. Furthermore, the indictment alleges that Chu misappropriated and diverted more than $7.3 million of investor funds for his own personal benefit, which included paying credit card debts; making cash withdrawals; paying for travel, luxury automobile and jewelry purchases; and paying utilities bills, among other things.

The indictment charges Chu with eight counts of wire fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. Sections 1343 and 2, and three counts of money laundering, in violation of 18 U.S.C. Sections 1957 and 2. 

An indictment merely alleges that crimes have been committed, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law. Each wire fraud count has a maximum statutory sentence of 20 years in prison and a fine in the amount of $250,000. Each money-laundering count has a maximum statutory sentence of 10 years in prison and a fine in the amount of $250,000. The court also may order a term of supervised release, fines or other assessments, restitution, and forfeiture, if appropriate. However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. Section 3553.
Chu was arrested this morning and made an initial appearance before the Hon. Laurel Beeler, U.S. Magistrate Judge for the Northern District of California. Chu’s next appearance is scheduled before Judge Beeler on Wednesday, May 10, 2023, for appearance of counsel.

The Special Prosecutions Section of the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California is prosecuting the case. The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the San Francisco Police Department.

Individuals who believe that they may be a victim in this case should contact the United States Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of California’s victim specialists.