2 Men in Orange County Fraud Scheme Get 7 Years

By City News Service
City News Service
City News Service
May 13, 2022 Updated: May 13, 2022

WESTMINSTER, Calif.—Two men involved in a $15 million mortgage fraud scheme in Orange County were sentenced Thursday to seven years in prison.

Jimmy Phan, 47, and Vinh Phan, 47, both pleaded guilty Dec. 16, 2021, according to court records. The Phans are not related.

Co-defendant Stephen Nguyen, 59, is a fugitive.

Jimmy Phan has about 14 months of credits for time in custody, his attorney Mark Fredrick said.

“Jimmy Phan regrets he got involved in this business with these other individuals and regrets the harm that he caused,” Fredrick said.

Jimmy Phan and Vinh Phan pleaded guilty to multiple felony counts of grand theft, mortgage fraud, attempting to file a false or forged instrument and admitted sentencing enhancements for aggravated white collar crime exceeding $500,000.

The defendants acquired property “and [used] them as collateral to borrow large amounts of money from lenders and private parties for short terms and high interest,” an Orange County District Attorney’s investigator said in a bail petition.

Some of the payments were made, but the lenders did not know the defendants “would record forged conveyances [an instrument to indicate that the loan was paid],” prosecutors said.

“Then they would take the advantage of the title being free from the first loan and obtain a second loan,” prosecutors said. “The second lender would fund the loan with the belief the property was free and clear.”

The second loans were sometimes used to finance acquisition of property with an “arms-length buyer,” who was “in fact in collusion with the seller to inflate the value of the property or to give the appearance of legitimacy,” prosecutors alleged.

Prosecutors allege 12 victims were duped in 10 separate real estate transactions with total losses of about $15 million.