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Press Release

San Jose Resident Sentenced To 54 Months In Prison For Stealing Homeless Individuals’ IDs And Using Them To Seek Fraudulent Tax Refunds

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Northern District of California

SAN JOSE – Diep Vo, aka Nancy Vo, was sentenced to 54 months in prison today for conspiring to file false claims for tax refunds, submitting false claims for tax refunds, mail fraud, and aggravated identity theft, announced U.S. Attorney Brian J. Stretch and Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Stuart M. Goldberg of the Justice Department’s Tax Division.  The sentence was handed down by the Honorable Beth Labson Freeman, U.S. District Judge following a guilty plea in June of this year.

According to documents and information provided to the court, Vo, 71, of San Jose, conspired with codefendant Trong Nguyen, aka John Nguyen, to use the personal information of homeless and unemployed individuals in the San Jose area to file fraudulent claims for refunds with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).  Vo went to homeless shelters and halfway houses and falsely represented to individuals that she could get them money from a government program designed to assist people who had not worked in previous years.  Vo convinced people to write down their names and social security numbers and to sign blank income tax returns.  Vo and Nguyen then falsified the signed returns by including bogus income and income tax withheld amounts.  Pursuant to this scheme, the defendants sought fraudulent refunds totaling approximately $3.4 million.  Vo and Nguyen directed the IRS to send the refund checks to private mailboxes they controlled.  

On May 18, 2017, a federal grand jury indicted Vo charging her with one count of conspiracy to file false claims, in violation of 18 U.S. C. § 286; three counts of aiding and abetting in filing false claims, in violation of 18 U.S.C. §§ 287 & 2; two counts of mail fraud, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1341; and two counts of aggravated identity theft, in violation of 18 U.C.S. §§ 1028A & 2.  Pursuant to her plea, Vo pleaded guilty to all counts.

In addition to the term of prison imposed, Judge Freeman ordered Vo to serve three years of supervised release and to pay $700,816 in restitution to the IRS.  Judge Freeman also ordered the defendant to self-surrender on January 4, 2018, to begin serving her sentence.  

Nguyen previously pleaded guilty to submitting and conspiring to submit false claims for refund and was sentenced in September to 25 months in prison.  

Assistant U.S. Attorney Amber Rosen and former Trial Attorney Gregory Bernstein of the Tax Division are prosecuting the case.  U.S. Attorney Stretch and Acting Deputy Assistant Attorney General Goldberg thanked the special agents of IRS Criminal Investigation who conducted the investigation. 

Updated November 14, 2017