A St. Michael insurance provider was charged Tuesday with allegedly stealing more than $200,000 from elderly clients.
Herald E. Liu, 66, faces four counts of theft by swindle in excess of $35,000, and two counts in excess of $5,000. He is scheduled to appear in court on March 21.
Liu convinced nine different victims, eight of whom were ages 74 to 90 years old at the time, to lend him money from 2013 to 2016 in the form of personal checks after the Minnesota Department of Commerce investigated his Wings Financial bank account records. The Commerce Department found he has been asking his clients for loans for the past eight years.
He used that money to pay his mortgage, personal cellphone, internet and health insurance bills, along with other expenses like groceries and clothing. He also admitted to using some of the “loan” money to pay off other clients which he borrowed from, according to the criminal complaint.
In 2016, the grandson of a blind 90-year-old client filed a harassment restraining order, on behalf of his grandmother, against Liu after learning she had been writing him checks and “manipulating her.” She answered a postcard solicitation of Liu’s and hired him to work on her will and trust in 2007. He drove her to and from appointments, according to DOC documents. Liu started asking for small loans to help his failing business in 2011 and gave his client promissory notes for some of the loans. He convinced her to liquidate most of her retirement investments so she could loan him more money, the complaint said. The DOC found she lent him over $130,000 from 2011 to 2016.
Liu became a state-registered residence insurance provider in 2003 with qualifications in accident, health and life insurance. He was the subject of a 2010 complaint where he was accused of borrowing $11,000 from a client and never paid her back. The complaint was withdrawn after Liu returned the money.
In total, Liu deposited 43 checks in the past three years, some which were written for his girlfriend and then transferred to his account.
The Minnesota DOC filed an order to revoke Liu’s license in November, but Liu contested the filing, which is pending.
Trevor Squire is a University of Minnesota student on assignment for the Star Tribune.