Former UWM professor pleads guilty in federal wire fraud case

A former University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee professor pleaded guilty to defrauding students from April 2016 through November 2020, U.S. Attorney Richard Frohling announced.

Yue Liu, also known as Troy Liu, had been charged in a two-count information with wire fraud and engaging in an unlawful monetary transaction.

Liu, who was an engineering professor, devised and executed a scheme to defraud students, authorities said. The essence of the scheme was to get money, through materially false promises and representations, from foreign students who were accepted into graduate programs at UWM. 

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Liu promised foreign students that they would be part of a program run by an entity he controlled, which would pay expenses associated with their studies at UWM – including tuition and other costs. In reality, there was no such program affiliated with UWM, and UWM waived the students’ tuition because they were research assistants. 

Authorities said Liu emailed letters to students in which he made false representations about the program, and he wrote those letters using a fictitious name he invented and using what appeared to be a UWM logo.

According to the Information and plea agreement, Liu fraudulently obtained more than $1.1 million from foreign students and visiting professors. Liu did not use the money from the students to pay their tuition and other expenses. Instead, he used a portion of the money he received for personal purposes, including to fund investment accounts and to pay credit card expenses.

Liu also attempted to conceal the scheme by creating a fraudulent research agreement between UWM and a fictitious entity purportedly based in China and using a portion of the money to fund this agreement.

The wire fraud count carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in prison, a maximum fine of $250,000 and up to five years of supervised release following any prison term. The unlawful monetary transaction count carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison, a maximum fine of $250,000, and up to three years of supervised release.

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