SANTA CLARA —A family-run arson team face multiple felony counts of insurance fraud and arson. 46-year-old Tyler Chen and his 45-year-old wife Kim headed the scheme of setting fires and then filing claims.
The payouts totaled over $4 million, coming from 5 different insurers. Four other individuals joined the Chens in their misdeeds.
The fires occurred from December 2011 through September 2013 in various homes, businesses and warehouses.
Then, a tip came in about these suspicious fires. In fact, the tipster alerted authorities as to the location of the next house fire.
An ensuing investigation, dubbed “Operation Fire Bird,” revealed that the Chens owned two of the burned businesses. In addition, “their homes in San Jose and Stockton met a similar fate.”
The alleged circumstances surrounding the house fires were all similar – unattended chicken left frying on the stove. Also, in each case there was no one at home when the fires allegedly began. It seemed “innocent and careless.”
Finally, the arsonists “planted many of the same smoke damaged items” at the various locations.
63-year-old Stockton resident Ha Nguyen is also complicit in the scheme. He and Mr. Chen ” ran an import and export business to Vietnam for which they rented warehouses.”
Authorities named as co-conspirators and arrested –
- 34-year-old Stockton resident Trang Hyunh;
- 49-year-old Santa Clara resident Suong Ngo; and
- 49-year-old San Jose resident Duyen Pham.
The gang submitted $5.6 million in claims and received $4,009,008 in payments.