Rancho Santa Margarita, CA - Three men were convicted and sentenced today for their roles in staging an auto collision and fraudulently filing an insurance claim with Infinity Insurance Company (Infinity) and State Farm Mutual Automobile Insurance Company (State Farm)
Phuong Nhu Nguyen, 31, Westminster, pleaded guilty to one felony count of insurance fraud and was sentenced to three years of formal probation, 90 days in jail stayed pending completion of 240 hours of community service.
Co-defendant David Pham, 74, Westminster, pleaded guilty Jan. 12, 2010, to one felony count of insurance fraud and was sentenced to three years of formal probation and 90 days in jail. Tony Nguyen, 56, Westminster, pleaded guilty May 6, 2011, to one felony count each of insurance fraud and capping and two felony counts of grand theft. Tony Nguyen was sentenced to three years of formal probation and 120 days in jail.
At approximately 10:30 p.m. on June 13, 2008, Tony Nguyen drove a 1995 Nissan sedan with Phuong Nguyen in the passenger seat. Tony Nguyen pulled out in front of a 1990 Nissan Maxima occupied by driver Tracy Nguyen, her husband Hoai Nguyen, and friend David Pham in the back seat. Tony Nguyen and Hoai Nguyen purposely drove their vehicles at slow speeds side-by-side so they touched at the intersection of Brookhurst Street and Larson Avenue in Garden Grove.
They pulled over and exchanged information. No medical personnel or police were called to the scene. Tony Nguyen referred the four co-defendants to the Law Offices of Walter Martinez and the Law Office of Tung T. Pham. On June 16, 2008, all five defendants filed an insurance claim for bodily injury and vehicle damage with Infinity and State Farm totaling over $60,000.
On June 30, 2008, during a recorded statement to Infinity, the five defendants stated that they did not know the occupants in the other vehicle before the collision. On July 11, 2008, during another recorded statement taken by Infinity, Tracy Nguyen, Hoai Nguyen, and David Pham stated that they did not know the driver or the passenger in the car that hit them.
On July 22, 2008, during a recorded statement taken by Infinity, Phuong Nguyen stated that she did not know the three people that were in the car that was struck.
In July 2008, the Department of Insurance began an investigation into the case at Infinity's request. During the time of the staged accident, all five defendants knew each other and lived together at various times in a Huntington Beach house owned by Hoai and Tracy Nguyen. Phone records also showed that Tony Nguyen and Hoai Nguyen called each other numerous times one month leading up to the staged accident.
In August and October of 2008, the five defendants received money from Infinity and State Farm totaling over $3,200 in collision claims.
All five defendants were arrested by California Department of Insurance (CDI) Detectives in 2009.
This case was investigated by the CDI Fraud Division in Orange County and assisted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation of Orange County.
Deputy District Attorney Demetra Lewis of the Auto Insurance Fraud Unit prosecuted this case.