A Garden Grove man who stole credit cards at the U.S. Postal Service facility he worked at, stuck his booty in his waistband and carried it out to his car during breaks—and went on to use the funds from the pilfered cards for drugs, alcohol, two BMWs and designer boots and handbags—has been sentenced to 75 months in federal prison.
Chinh Vuong, a 49-year-old mail processing clerk who worked at the United States Postal Service Santa Ana Processing and Distribution Center for about 25 years, admitted that over the year prior to his arrest he stole an average of 40 credit card envelopes, three to five nights per week, which translates to at least 6,240 credit cards over that period, says the U.S. Attorney’s office.
Vuong—who was investigated by the FBI, the Office of the Inspector General and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service’s Identity Theft & Economic Crimes Task Force, with assistance from the Westminster Police Department—told federal agents he made at least $6,000 a month from his scheme.
After confronting Vuong with evidence of his crimes, federal authorities on Oct. 6, 2015, searched his residence and seized nearly 200 stolen credit cards and luxury items, including more than 20 handbags from such designers as Prada, Gucci and Louis Vuitton.
“On the day of the warrant, [Vuong] described to federal agents how he executed the bank fraud conspiracy and identity theft scheme,” reads a sentencing memorandum filed with the court. “While at work, [Vuong] would identify envelopes that contained American Express and Chase credit cards but had been marked ‘undeliverable.’ Rather than let those envelopes be returned to the respective bank, [Vuong] stuffed the envelopes with new credit cards inside into his waistband. Then, he made trips to his car while on break to hide the stolen credit cards.”
With Assistant U.S. Attorney Vibhav Mittal of the Santa Ana Branch Office having won the conviction—Vuong pleaded guilty in August 2016 to conspiracy to commit bank fraud and aggravated identity theft—U.S. District Judge Cormac J. Carney in Santa Ana on Thursday sent Vuong to prison for more than six years and ordered him to pay $325,085 in restitution to Chase Bank USA and American Express.
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.