MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Woodbury man is charged with stealing the identities of more than 300 people in the Twin Cities who donated to a nonprofit where he worked.
Hai Vu, 53, is charged with one count of identity theft and two counts of falsely obtaining unemployment benefits.
According to the criminal complaint, Vu was fired from House of Charity — a homeless shelter — in February 2017 due to “disciplinary issues.” The nonprofit gave him a severance package of two months salary and unemployment benefits as part of the termination, but he later applied for unemployment benefits and falsely claimed he hadn’t received a severance.
After he’d wrongly received unemployment benefits, state investigators at the Department of Employment and Economic Development (DEED) noticed some peculiar activity in his account. Vu had overdrafted his account several times, and each time the overdraft was paid back via a different bank account. The holders of those bank accounts said they hadn’t authorized the payments.
Investigators looked deeper into the five bank accounts Vu allegedly used and found more unusual activity. The accounts had made insurance, wireless account and private school payments in Vu’s name over the course of several months. Investigators noticed each of the five victims had been donors to the House of Charity in recent years.
When authorities obtained a warrant and searched Vu’s home, they found hundreds of credit reports, rental applications, checks, electronic banking information, credit cards, utility bills and even a birth certificate. In all, he’d taken financial information from more than 300 people who’d donated to the House of Charity while he worked there.
If convicted, Vu could face up to 40 years in prison and $100,000 in fines.