Last year, an 85 year old resident of San Jose lost approximately $100,000 when a personal checkbook was stolen from his home in a burglary. Once the suspects’ took possession of the victim’s checkbook, they began an elaborate fraud scheme using other victims’ identities to drain the 85 year old man’s bank accounts. On May 1, 2013, the San Jose Police Department’s Financial Crimes Unit Detective Brian Pettis’ investigation resulted in the arrest of three suspects after the MERGE team served a search warrant on their residence.
As the MERGE team made entry into the house, they caught two of the suspects in the act of committing identity theft on line. The ensuing search uncovered weapons, narcotics, and evidence of a sophisticated identity theft operation that included equipment and supplies to make fraudulent credit cards, driver’s licenses, counterfeit money, and fraudulent checks as a means of stealing the life savings of hundreds of victims and defrauding financial institutions.
The additional victims’ information appeared to have been acquired through burglaries, mail theft and other means. United States Secret Service agents from the San Jose Office assisting on the search stated that it was the most extensive and inclusive operation they had seen for identity theft in the San Jose area. The three suspects, 35 year old Toan Nguyen, 33 year old Mai Huang and 27 year old Kent Do were booked into the Santa Clara County Jail without incident.
All three suspects had bail set at $5 million dollars. The investigation continues as the police department attempts to contact additional victims and locate two persons of interest, 39 year old Thach Duong and 44 year old Tri Nguyen. Deputy Chief Phan Ngo said, “Detective Brian Pettis and the MERGE Unit are to be commended for their outstanding police work. Detective Pettis’ investigation not only solved a burglary, where an 85-year-old was victimized, but it also potentially prevented other burglaries and hundreds of identity thefts. I am so proud of not only their exceptional work – but also of their commitment to service to our residents.”