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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Western District of Washington

Friday, March 28, 2014

Bank Fraud Co-Conspirator Sentenced to Prison for Using Firearm to try to Collect Debts

Defendant Preyed On Members Of The Vietnamese Community

            A member of a bank fraud scheme who threatened people with a firearm to try to collect debts was sentenced today to six years in prison, announced U.S. Attorney Jenny A. Durkan.  SON PHAM, 45, pleaded guilty in November 2013 to two counts of Attempted Collection of Extensions of Credit by Extortionate Means, one count of Bank Fraud, and one count of Carrying a Firearm During and in Relation to a Crime of Violence.  SON PHAM admits he used threats of violence to collect debts and that he had arranged for one of his co-conspirators to be armed with a firearm while the threats were made.  At sentencing U.S. District Judge Robert S. Lasnik ordered PHAM to pay $115,690 in restitution for the bank fraud scheme.

            According to records filed in the case, PHAM conspired with ring leader Chi Ahn Nguyen in a scheme to defraud banks by running up credit card and cash advance debts that they never intended to repay.  The men used the identities of others—many of whom participated in the schemeto access credit cards that he and others involved in the scheme used to purchase jewelry and other consumer goods or for cash advances at casinos.  The men then took a share of the proceeds derived from those transactions.  PHAM also loaned money to people in his community and then used threats of violence to try to collect the debts.  In October 2012, PHAM arranged for one of his cohorts to be armed with a semi-automatic pistol when they confronted an associate of someone owing PHAM $10,000.  The men claimed the victim was responsible for the other man’s debt; they surrounded him at the Macau Casino in Tukwila and demanded the money while brandishing the gun.  In a second instance, also in October 2012, PHAM tried to collect a $2,000 debt by threatening to send people to the victim’s home to “cut him.”

The case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigation (HSI).  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Matthew Hampton.

Updated March 20, 2015