Five in Orange County Arrested in Fraud and Identity Theft Ring

Earlier this month, five suspects from Santa Ana, Orange County were arrested for their suspected connection with a fraud and identity theft ring. Orange County Sheriff’s Deputies arrested Nhan Hoang Pham, 29, of Fountain Valley, Lam Thanh Bui, 30, of Garden Grove, Chieu Bach Nguyen, 29, of Santa Ana, and Keeta Thilauan, 25, for multiple alleged thefts and burglaries in the past several months. A fifth suspect, according to inmate records, is listed under two names.

The SWAT team and Sheriff’s investigators issued search warrants and did a parole and probation check on the suspects. The team raided the home of the five and found weapons, a half pound of methamphetamine, several thousand dollars, and gift cards. They also found fraudulently obtained credit cards, identity theft profiles, computers, cell phones, and data storage devices. Authorities believe the ring is operating throughout California in conjunction  with a larger crime ring. They further believe there are hundreds of potential identity theft victims that they are trying to identify through financial information from the searches.

California Identity Theft Laws (CA Penal Code 530.5)

The crime of identity theft is essentially taking someone else’s personal identifying information for use in an unlawful/fraudulent manner such as to:

  • Sign up for credit cards
  • Issue checks
  • Get government IDs such as passports

In California, the crime of identity theft is a wobbler, meaning it may be either misdemeanor or felony. Misdemeanors charges are punishable by up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine while felony charges are punishable by up to three years in jail and a $10,000 fine.  

Sentencing also depends on the facts of your case and your criminal history. In the example provided above, the suspects will likely face more severe penalties as well as additional charges (ie. drug trafficking, illegal possession of firearms) given their circumstances.

Federal Law

Because identity theft is so widespread and is ever-increasing, a federal identity theft statute was enacted in 1998. See Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence Act; I8. U.S.C. § 1028.  Prosecution under the federal statute increases jail time to 30 years as well as increased fines.  Identity theft crimes that cross multiple state lines may be charged under the federal statute.

San Diego Identity Theft Lawyer

The Law Offices of David M. Boertje has handled all types of misdemeanor and felony criminal cases in San Diego County including extortion, identity theft, credit card fraud, and other related crimes. We are licensed to practice in federal court and state court and can represent you in your criminal defense case during the entire process. If you have been charged with the crime of identity theft, do not wait to contact our office today. This is a serious charge – do not try to fight it alone! Our consultations are free and confidential.