Woodbury Man Pleads Guilty to Identity Theft of Approximately 300 People

July 17, 2018 09:21 PM

A Woodbury man has pleaded guilty to multiple charges after authorities say he stole the identities of approximately 300 people, many of them linked to the Twin Cities charity where he worked.

According to court records, Hai Jay Phu Vu pleaded guilty to one count of identity theft and one count of obtaining unemployment benefits through false representation. 

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A criminal complaint said the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) contacted the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension in September 2017 after discovering "suspicious circumstances surrounding the filings" for Vu's unemployment insurance. 

RELATED: County Attorney: Man Stole Identity of More Than 300 People

The complaint said Vu's employment with House of Charity, a homeless shelter, was severed due to disciplinary issues in February 2017. The complaint goes on to say Vu falsely checked certain questions while applying for unemployment benefits, and that he failed to disclose new employment gained in June 2017. 

DEED raised further concerns after multiple payments were made to Vu's unemployment insurance account for an outstanding $885. 

The complaint said between March and August of 2017, five payments were made to Vu's DEED account from multiple bank accounts that did not belong to Vu.

None of the owners of the accounts authorized the payments, according to the complaint. 

RELATED: In the Wrong Hands: Child Identity Theft 

Investigators reviewed the banking records of the five victims and discovered a number of unauthorized payments from the account. 

Authorities learned all five victims were donors to House of Charity. While working at House of Charity, Vu had access to donor's banking information, according to the complaint. 

When authorities executed a search warrant on Vu's home, they located approximately 300 victim identities that had been stolen, the complaint said. The information seized included credit reports, rental applications, copies of checks, original checks, banking information and statements, utility bills, a birth certificate and a notary stamp. 

RELATED: Lakeville Principal Faces Additional Stalking, Identity Theft Charges

Investigators later learned Vu had been using the banking information to pay for various expenses, credit card bills and private school tuition.

House of Charity released a statement to 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS Tuesday, saying, "House of Charity thanks the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension for its investigative work that helped bring the individual responsible for these crimes to justice. The crimes of unauthorized use or attempted use of individuals' private information are especially heinous when they affect those who are served by, financially support or work for an organization whose mission is to feed those in need, house those experiencing homelessness and empower individuals to achieve independence."

A representative of the charity added: "To ensure that an event like this does not occur in the future, with the assistance of our Board of Directors and outside experts, we are reviewing hiring and information security policies and procedures. That review is ongoing, and the House of Charity will continue to make all changes necessary to safeguard the private information of our donors, clients, and staff. We have been in ongoing communication with our donors that have been affected.  We are committed to employing individuals whose history, skills and personal integrity meet the high standards essential to fulfilling our mission to our clients and our commitment to our donors to be good stewards of their gifts."  

 

Credits

Josh Rosenthal and Ben Rodgers

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