An accused financial fraudster used backers' money for a personal and uncommon purpose, prosecutors say: to have his wife's body cryogenically frozen.
While telling investors he was putting their money in commodities, foreign exchange trading pools and precious metals, Whileon Chay instead used over $150,000 of it on cryogenics after his wife's roughly 2009 death, federal prosecutors said in a fraud indictment unveiled Friday in Manhattan.
Chay's account of his dealings isn't yet known.
Prosecutors say the 38-year-old fled New York for Peru while under investigation in 2011 and they have been unable to locate him. Neither he nor any lawyer for him responded to a related civil suit that the federal Commodities Futures Trading Commission filed against him last year.
"Although he has fled the country, these charges against him will persist, and so will our efforts to bring him back to face them," U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement Friday.
Chay solicited more than $5 million from people for investment pools, promising returns around 24 percent a year and telling them there was "no risk in this activity," prosecutors said.
Instead, he lost over $2 million of the investors' money and used much of the rest for personal expenses -- one investor noticed Chay drove a different luxury car virtually every time they met -- and his wife's preservation, according to prosecutors.
Prosecutors said Chay bolstered his deceit by sending out bogus account statements and using new investors' contributions to pay phony returns to earlier backers.