A South Bay Area real estate broker held in lieu of $10 million bail
A South Bay Area real estate broker and a notary public have been charged with a scheme that involved enticing mostly Vietnamese-American victims into investing in foreign gold, a bail bond business, or some other “secret” investment, by promising them abnormally high returns on their investments. Investigation by the District Attorney’s Office revealed that the business offered by the suspects actually never even existed.
Lananh Thi Phan, a licensed real estate agent associated with Realty World-Quality Homes, Inc. in San Jose, and Diane H. Do Bui, a commissioned notary public, are charged with multiple felonies. Both were arrested on Wednesday, August 27. Phan, 54, is being held in lieu of ten-million dollar bail. Bui, 49, is being held in lieu of five-million dollar bail. If convicted, they face up to 24 years in prison.
“We are looking for more victims in this case,’’ prosecutor Kimberly Connors said. “Unfortunately, these defendants lured their victims with promises of incredible profits and a secure financial future. Instead, they lost what security they had.” The prosecutor said that she would seek restitution for the victims.
A year-long District Attorney’s Office investigation found the “Ponzi” scheme was operating for the past 5 years. Most of the victims were told that they had to invest a minimum of $25,000, and they would receive returns of $1,500 per month. The amount of money lost by 18 documented victims totals more than eight-million dollars.
At first, victims would receive monthly returns that exceeded their expectations. Once their confidence in securing their investments with the suspects, each victim was asked if they would like to invest more of their savings for a higher return on investment. Usually, the victims were persuaded to roll their monthly returns directly back into the business, and the suspects were able to stop giving any money to the victims. Victims told investigators that Phan bragged to them about her success and showed them her collection of high-end Louis Vuitton purses.
The Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office asks anyone who thinks they may have been a victim in this case to call the District Attorney’s Real Estate Fraud Unit at (408) 792-2879.