San Jose man sentenced to 17 years for role in ID theft ring victimizing dozens

A San Jose man today was sentenced to more than 17 years in prison for masterminding what San Jose police believe is one of the most extensive and insidious identity theft rings in the city’s history.

Tri Van Nguyen was sentenced by the Hon. Socrates Manoukian following his plea to 87 felony counts earlier this year.

Nguyen, 47, and three other co-defendants are believed to have stolen more than $500,000 from more than 60 victims – including grieving widows, an elderly couple who lost their retirement account, and a four-year-old boy whose stolen identity was used to pay off a relative’s power bill.

When, in 2013, police arrested three of the defendants in a North San Jose apartment complex, they found an ID theft “factory” with four printers churning out fake IDs and counterfeit $100 bills.

“These were not people shoplifting from a grocery store to feed themselves,” prosecutor Vishal Bathija said. “This was a destructive, extensive, and obscene money grab.”

Co-defendants Ha Van Nguyen, 38, and Mai Hoang, 36, were previously sentenced to 29 years 8 months and 17 years 8 months in prison following their pleas while Kent Do, 30, was sentenced to probation for 10 years due to his lack of criminal history and lesser participation in the overall scheme.

The ID thieves used a wide variety of techniques to steal identities, including residential and auto burglaries, mail theft, culling information from obituaries, even starting a fake company on the web called nguyenantithievemailprevention.com.

Investigators believed that the ring used their illegal proceeds on buying luxury cars, electronics, ammunition and – in one case – breast augmentation surgery.

Even the apartment where police found the ID theft factory was rented in the name of a person whose identity had been stolen.

Investigators believe that there are other related and, so far, undiscovered ID theft factories in the area.

Bathija was thankful for the vital cooperation of a number of agencies on the case, including the United States Secret Service, the United States Postal Inspector, the Department of Motor Vehicles Investigative Division, and Detective Brian Pettis of the San Jose Police Department.

SOURCE: Santa Clara District Attorney’s Office

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