Friday, July 10, 2015

USFIA Update: What was USFIA doing before Gemcoin? Exactly the same thing... selling promises of amber

Previously, we have established that the Arcadia based USFIA is the SAME "American Mining" scam that plagued China in 2014, and was destroyed in multiple raids in China as of June 2014. Its head in China, Ho Peng, was arrested in Hunan. The initial reporting agency, Changde police, even went to Thailand to arrest two that escaped there in November 2014.

USFIA had since published disclaimer that they never endorsed the company name being used for illegal purposes and basically disowned Ho Peng. 

But let us examine... Was USFIA doing anything different then vs. now? What was USFIA doing before 2015?

Here's the earliest mention of USFIA 美洲矿业... in California. classified ad in Chinese: American Mining needs gem commerce reps, dated 06-SEP-2013
They need reps to join US and Chinese markets, no requirements other than speak clearly and be nice
Note that they were looking for 加盟商 / Franchisee (30 of these), and 業務代表 / business rep.

Selling what? Gemstones? Or protoshares of whatever USFIA offers? Interesting, as we have no record of this.

What we *do* know is by March 2014, reps have indeed reached China, and is attracting official attention, because they do *not* have a direct sales license in China. So the reps all lied, claiming "it's coming soon". They attracted enough attention in Liaoning that local newspaper wrote an article on them, leading them to clear out overnight.

And this is their comp plan:

  • Invest $1000, $2000, $5000, $10000, or $20000, get "merchandise" and "business center", plus $100 yearly "maintenance fee". 
  • Get referral bonus (8% to 15% depending on how big the package your referral bought) 
  • Get Leadership bonus (get referral bonus of your upline and downlines down 3 generations)
  • Get Passive Monthly bonus (refer 1, get 1.75 shares, refer 2 get 2 shares)
  • Management monthly bonus (if you got 2 downlines who brought in 300K each (10000 USD = 1 point, so 30 pts) you get 20000 that month, and it goes up from there. 
  • Autoship bonus -- get a share of downline's purchases, if they maintain minimum of $100 per month, going down 12 generations
  • Travel bonus and Car bonus
Let's keep this in mind while we check into a bit of history. 

First, let us examine the an old Chinese news on, reposting news from Hunan Daily: news of 12-NOV-2014, reporting arrest by Changde police
in Thailand regarding the USFIA "American Mining" scam
The part I highlighted in blue is:


Which translates to:
According to Changde Ministry of Public Security, Mr. Lu Wei (from Heilongjiang) joined in October 2013 the pyramid sales organization "American Mining" (USFIA) established in US Los Angeles by Chen Li and Solomon Yang, and became one of pyramid sales leaders in the China region. "American Ming" (USFIA) recruited heavily in Beijing, Xinjiang, and Hunan using the promise of profit from investments in amber options as well as protostocks. They used bad quality amber to pass for Dominican blue amber and defrauded the members, and several times used "American Mining" (USFIA) name to hold pyramid sales promotion and recruitment meetings in China. 
Li Chen (i.e. Chen Li 陳力)is Steve Chen, head of USFIA, UCCA, AFG, and so on and so forth. 

Thus, there is absolutely NO DOUBT this is the same organization, same head, same company. Arcadia is a suburb of Los Angeles. In fact, some Spanish speakers are known to have mistaken John Wuo, then mayor of Arcadia, as "mayor of Los Angeles". Tsk tsk tsk, can't they even check Wikipedia?

USFIA posted an announcement dated June 2014 that Ho Peng was a rogue operator and the company disclaimed any and all relations with him. Then in late 2014 they launched Gemcoin, allegedly "backed by amber". 

Frankly, this already smells like "same wine, new bottle", but let's make absolutely sure... what was AFG / USFIA / WHATEVER doing BEFORE the crackdown in China? 

Here is an video found on Tudou (Chinese Youtube), believed to have been uploaded by a Spanish affiliate of USFIA back around February or March 2014, of their visit to AFG/USFIA HQ in Arcadia California. And they were speaking Spanish, not Chinese. As Chinese New Years decorations are still in display this can't be much later than March, and it was showing AFG, so this is before the introduction of Gemcoin. The video was then reuploaded to China's Tudou by a USFIA affiliate in China who added an overlay for his own website (no longer in service).

AFG / USFIA lobby, circa approx. March 2014. Note this is pre Gemcoin, and around Chinese New Years
And just for comparison, this is USFIA lobby now:

Seems they replaced the back sign to say AFG / Gemcoin, but kept some of those Chinese lanterns in the back. But there's no doubt it's the same desk, same lobby.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

USFIA Update: Turns out both the Chinese name and the English name may have been stolen

Today, MLMSkeptic takes a deep dive into the Interwebs, to dig up who is the REAL "American Mining" (it's NOT USFIA), by looking at various corporate listings as well as news from Asia to prove that the name "American Mining" was stolen by USFIA.

USFIA which supposedly stands for US Fine Investment Arts, was known as 美洲礦業/美洲矿业 in Chinese, which translates to American Mining. Chinese Commercial Yellow Pages (CCYP) shows that they are the same:

Screen cap of Google Search Results for 美洲礦業, confirms that USFIA
美洲礦業, which translates to American Mining
Furthermore, when the scam was active in China, it used the same logo and Chinese name. This is primary rep Ho Peng at such a seminar in Macao. Ho Peng was arrested in China in June 2014 along with 21 other promoters of USFIA 美洲矿业 in China.

Ho Peng, USFIA top rep in China, at a promo event in Macao April 2014.
Ho was arrested in June 2014 for his role in 美洲矿业 scam. 
And just to confirm, this always has been USFIA's logo. This is the current rendition of the logo:

"USFIA Inc. US Fine Investment Arts"
The address matches. This is indeed the USFIA in question. And this is a US Corporation registered in California by Steve Chen.

Profile for USFIA in California, which used Chinese name 美洲矿业
which means American Mining, even though USFIA
supposedly stands for "US Fine Investment Arts"

However, we do have a problem as there is already a 美洲礦業 in Shenzhen, China. As this is in China, the proper way to write it is 美洲矿业 (simplified Chinese).

And yes, they have a logo. This was from a talent wanted ad they posted earlier:

America Mine Holding Talent Wanted ad in China, short profile on company in Shenzhen, China

And this one is easy to verify via third party sources. Search for AA Mine Mexico brought up an official Mexican government listing of mining projects in Mexico with Foreign Capital:

Official Mexican Government website confirming AA Mine Holding is Chinese owned

Okay, sounds legitimate enough. Is there yet OTHER sources to prove this is the "real" 美洲矿业 , i.e America Mine Holding?


Tuesday, July 7, 2015

USFIA Update: Denial in Spain (and fun Spanish Vocabulary)

As previously mentioned, Spain Official Agency CNMV (La Comisión Nacional del Mercado de Valores trans: National Commission on Markets and Values/Investments) issued a warning against USFIA (i.e. AFG / Gemcoin ) back on May 18th.

In Spain, such illegal unregistered investments, basically HYIP, are known as chiringuito financiero or "financial snack bars".  Chiringuito is an open air snack bar often found on Spanish beaches serving snacks and drinks where you order from a counter and find your own seats. Some are even mobile on a tricycle. Thus, a chringuito financiero is a ramshackle unregistered investment, often without even a physical presence, and only exists via phone calls, email, and websites.  And USFIA (AFG / Gemcoin) was identified as a chringuito financiero.

Normally that's hardly noticeable, as the commission issues dozens of warnings every year. However, one of the comments was quite interesting, on a newspaper called "ValenciaPlaza".

Translation: Israel G. Gomez wrote That is not the website of USFIA.  I see they have contrasted the news and have little idea of ​​what they say, deplorable!

So what website was CNMV talking about? ""

FWIW, is now a parked Godaddy domain.  Well, if it wasn't guilty, why is it parked so early? It's not as if Guardia (Spanish Police) raided it, right?

Monday, July 6, 2015

USFIA Update: Gemcoin ATMs (probably not) and warning in Spain about it being unlicensed investment

NOTE: Previous coverage on USFIA can be found here

MLMSkeptic has a special disdain for someone scamming their own kind in order to get ahead, which is pretty much every scammer out there, when the truth is often in plain view, albeit the view may have been distracted.

A certain Gemcoin promoter online claimed that Gemcoin ATMs , THOUSANDS of them, will soon be distributed around the world, so people can get cash through their Gemcoin account. As an example, they showed two ATMs allegedly with Gemcoin listed next to the typical ATM logos like VISA / MASTERCARD / AMEX and so on.

Screencap'ed from
As you can see, that's "Gemcoin" 2nd from the right on the top row, and here's a guy that looks like he's getting money from it.

So why is there a "Gemcoin" logo's bottom showing just above the ATMs?

Turns out, these two are probably the ONLY ATMs that display the Gemcoin logo... because they are installed at Gemcoin HQ, i.e. UCCA / USFIA / AFG / whatchamacallit in Arcadia. Don't believe me? Here's a different angle of the same ATMs, from a different Gemcoin promoter:

Then consider this shot from the FRONT of the lobby... at the reception desk

One must conclude that the two confirmed-to-exist (whether you can actually convert Gemcoins to cash is a different matter) alleged "Gemcoin" ATM are located in the main lobby of USFIA/AFG, as this is the SAME paneling used in both pictures.  Albeit it's not in public view, but around the back.

Frankly, other than banks, the ONLY other locations with ATMs, esp. these free-standing kinds, are local convenience stores. You know, something like this:

Sunday, July 5, 2015

USFIA Update: Who is this security guard and was he also identified as gemstone appraiser?

Previously, we've identified the USFIA shindig in Arcadia, where Steve Chen threw a party for "USFIA Club Grand Opening", where he threw a party, then started up a motorcade  to visit his closed Quail Lodge golf course and promised this will be developed into a huge profitable enterprise. This was back on May 29, 2015. John Wuo was present.

Also present was this security guard, in no less than three photos.

Security guard, photo 1 of 3, hiding in background to left

Security guard photo 2, posing with fellow guards and motorcade control, far right

Security guard photo 3 of 3, posing with fans with thumbs up sign
Do we agree that these three shows the photo of the same guy? Taller than most Chinese, stocky.

USFIA Update: Was in China earlier than previous reported, but definitely originated in the US

Searching for signs of USFIA, known in China as  美洲矿业 (American Continental Mining Industries, or just 'American Mining' for now), yielded a couple more links.

The earliest mention of American Mining was not in China, but in the US. A poster "Harryyu" posted a wanted ad in Southern California about "seeking USFIA sales rep for gemstone mining" dated 06-SEP-2013.

The earliest mention in China was a forum post in February 9th, 2014, where Mr. Ho Peng 候鵬 (surname is "Ho") made a big presentation in Qingdao, Shangdong province, China. You are welcome to Google translate the link, but I'll give you the TL;DR version:  Ho held a big meeting in the local 5-star hotel called Le Meridien  ( 青岛万达艾美酒店)  where Mr. Ho presented to a packed house full of MLMers from all over China for two hours. Ho claimed he had been in various MLM things for two years, and made over 20 million RMB and this American Mining will be the biggest next thing, and he had already made millions in this one, and he guarantees this is a sure win. Ho kept talking about his "aunt" 姨媽 from Guizhou 貴州, who's a local fortune teller and told him he will make tens of millions. Everybody can believe this fortune.

Alleged insider claimed that Ho is the local Judas Goat and may be part owner. He was shifting money out of the country and already got a divorce to emigrate. He had to make "one last job" before disappearing from China. Another accused Ho Peng of swindling people using his aunt's name.
Ho Peng, in Macao 22-APR-2014, promoting USFIA

I won't bother translating the comp package, except to explain that if you buy in at packages of 2K, 5K, 10K, or 30K (RMB of course), you get either protostock, or actual amber, and you can trade the protostock with their platform.

Other news sources claimed that Ho Peng was doing the same schtick all over China, and claimed to be a standing member of UCCA. USFIA name was mentioned prominently. Here is Ho Peng doing his schtick in Macao in April 22, 2014. You can see USFIA and 美洲矿业 in the background. You can view the entire video here. Chrome users: Use incognito mode to bypass the "missing plugins" error.

Note that the video title is 美洲矿业中美政治协商促进会—侯鹏 which translates to "American Mining UCCA -- Ho Peng"

In a different copy of the video, Ho Peng got a different title: 美洲矿业中美政治协商促进会常务委员—侯鹏 which translated to "American Mining UCCA standing member -- Ho Peng"

And he apparently got an ID card from UCCA shown at the same event, vidcapped from a different video.

Back in the US, also on the ChineseInLA website, a user by the name of "Amber Dream" posted an ad copy under "China-US Commerce" topic on 20-FEB-2014.

Another forum post in China was made on March 8th, 2014 where similar allegations was mentioned and the meeting in Qingdao was again referenced, but this time with a promise that Ho will do a presentation in Beijing. It also mentioned that his biggest downline is a Mr. Wang  王軍 Wang Jun who also made millions.

The fortunes started to turn for USFIA in China around March 2014, as they are starting to attract the attention of the authorities all over China.