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Press Release

Two California Residents Sentenced for Roles in Wide-Ranging Fraud and Money Laundering Conspiracy

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Western District of Pennsylvania

PITTSBURGH, Pa. - Two residents of Santa Ana, California, have been sentenced in federal court on their convictions of money laundering conspiracy, United States Attorney Eric G. Olshan announced today.

United States District Judge J. Nicholas Ranjan imposed the sentences on Thien Phuc Tran, 34, and Ton Huynh Bui, 30. Tran received a sentence of 87 months of imprisonment followed by three years of supervised release, and was ordered to pay $4,247,987 in restitution, while Bui was sentenced to four months’ incarceration followed by three years of supervised release and ordered to pay $194,278 in restitution.

According to information presented to the court, Tran and Bui were part of a wide-ranging criminal conspiracy which had two overall elements: a fraud scheme to deprive victims of money, and then a second scheme to launder the fraudulently obtained funds, with Tran and Bui involved in the latter scheme. Vulnerable victims across the United States, often elderly, were convinced through nefarious means, including computer pop-up messages followed by telephone calls from co-conspirators operating out of call centers in India, to send their money to bank accounts created with stolen Personally Identifiable Information (PII). Typically, a pop-up message would appear on their computer screen, falsely purporting to be from a reputable technology company, urging the user to call a number. When the victim called the number, the victim was told that his or her identity had been compromised and would be convinced to send their money to a particular bank account opened by Tran and Bui with stolen PII.

Conspirators also converted stolen victim funds to cryptocurrency, and moved money through multiple accounts, including accounts affiliated with the defendants, in an attempt to conceal their fraudulent activities. One victim in the Western District of Pennsylvania was caused to liquidate retirement accounts totaling $1,288,073. Tran was found to be responsible for the laundering of $4,247,973 in fraud proceeds, while Bui was responsible for a lesser amount of $194,278.

Prior to imposing sentence, Judge Ranjan stated that the crimes committed by the defendants went well beyond typical financial crimes and will seriously affect victims for a very long time.

Assistant United States Attorneys Robert S. Cessar and Stephen R. Kaufman prosecuted this case on behalf of the government.

United States Attorney Olshan commended the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Secret Service for the investigation leading to the successful prosecution of Tran and Bui.

Updated January 25, 2024

Financial Fraud