An El Monte resident was arrested last week for allegedly pretending to run his own U.S. Army unit. Yupeng Deng, also known as David Deng, allegedly recruited Chinese nationals who believed that joining would buy them a fast track to citizenship and other perks.
Deng passed himself off as a "supreme commander" for the Military Special Forces Reserve unit, a non-existent rank for a non-existing unit. Investigators said he demanded sign-up fees of $300 to $400 along with annual dues. He faces 13 felony charges.
Legitimate Army recruiters and members of the Army's local community advisory board on Monday spoke at a news conference on how to separate phony recruiters from real ones.
"When I was recruited no one was asking for money. In fact, they were offering me money," said Janet Chin, a former Army captain.
According to the complaint, Deng supplied his soldier with counterfeit I.D. cards and actual Army fatigues.
The FBI said Deng had even set up a recruiting center in Temple City with an Army seal in the rug.
There were new reports in the local Chinese media that there are others like Deng still operating.
"If someone is representing themselves as a military recruiter and is asking for money to join, then we are asking those people to contact local authorities and report these individuals," Army Capt. Patrick Caukin said.
They also reminded the public that the military does seek diversity and that recruits can obtain citizenship after basic training.