Federal authorities have seized close to $3 million in funds and assets from an original investor in social media platform Gettr during a billion-dollar fraud investigation.
The Justice Department arrested(Opens in a new window) Chinese billionaire investor Guo Wengui on Wednesday for allegedly defrauding people out of more than $1 billion. The exiled dissident who lives in Manhattan is also known as Ho Wan Kwok and Miles Guo.
In the DOJ’s indictment, Guo is accused of manipulating his nearly 900,000 followers on Gettr into investing millions into cryptocurrency and anti-Chinese Communist Party “media scams,” The Verge reports(Opens in a new window). Guo pleaded not guilty in a Manhattan federal court on the same day as his arrest. He was ordered to be detained without bail.
The indictment alleges that Guo and his business partner Kin Ming Je persuaded Guo’s Gettr followers, many of whom are Chinese nationals living in the West, to fund what they thought were media businesses and an exclusive membership club. Je is still at large, the DOJ says.
Gettr, which did not immediately reply to a request for comment, describes itself as a social media platform “founded on the principles of free speech, independent thought and rejecting political censorship and ‘cancel culture.’”
Recommended by Our Editors
According to the BBC(Opens in a new window), a fire broke out at the billionaire’s penthouse apartment overlooking Central Park hours after he was arrested. Authorities are reportedly(Opens in a new window) investigating whether that blaze, which happened while FBI agents were still searching it, was sparked remotely.
Guo is accused by federal prosecutors of using funds he swindled from his followers to buy a $26.5 million New Jersey mansion, a $37 million yacht, on top of a $36,000 mattress, and a $140,000 piano, among other things.
Get Our Best Stories!
Sign up for What’s New Now to get our top stories delivered to your inbox every morning.