SJ police investigate company accused of scam

A money wire transfer service is accused of scamming thousands of dollars from people up and down the state.

December 28, 2010 7:28:46 PM PST
Police in San Jose are investigating a money wire transfer service accused of scamming thousands of dollars from people up and down the state. Many of those victims contacted 7 On Your Side in a desperate search for answers.

According to investigators, the company targeted members of the large Vietnamese community in both the Bay Area and greater Los Angeles. People who gave the company hundreds, even thousands of dollars suddenly found the company had shut down and their money had disappeared.

The sign on the San Jose store front still says The3Mien.com but the business is clearly closed -- with no sign it will ever reopen. Its customers are left wondering if they'll ever get their money back. Clients paid The3Mien.com to transfer money to family, friends and charities in Vietnam, but police said the money never made it.

The $1,200 Kong Nguyen lost was meant to pay for his brother-in-law's funeral and Nhan Do lost $300 intended for his sick mother.

"I feel they stole my money," Do said.

San Jose police have posted a notice on the door asking more victims to come forward.

"Our priority is we're going into the books trying to backtrack and see where that money went, trying to get the victims their money back," Officer Jose Garcia from San Jose Police Dept. said.

One man who works in the area says the sudden closure of the company in July left customers stunned.

"They were quite upset. People were crying and sometimes there were 15, maybe 15-20 people out here. They were literally upset because a lot of them seem like they had lost everything," Preston a neighbor said.

Philip Nguyen is executive director of the Southeast Asian Community Center, and he says sending money back to Vietnam is a common practice in his community.

"They have an attachment to each other very much. One person doing good, they spread the wealth all together. The people doing bad, everybody chip in try to help them," he said.

The3Mien.com also ran an outlet in Westminster, south of Los Angeles, where police there are also investigating similar accusations against the company.

"We believe it's the same owner, the same type of fraud occurred in that jurisdiction," Garcia said.

Using public records, 7 On Your Side learned that The3Mien.com is owned by Vann Le and the company also goes by the name of the Producers Exchange Inc. The state Department of Financial Institutions issued two cease and desist orders against The3Mien.com this year for operating without a license.

7 On Your Side tracked down the owner by phone in Orange County and Le told us his vendors owe him close to $500,000.

"If any pennies come in, the consumers will be the first to be taken care of," Le said.

He also denied he's guilty of any fraud.

"I spent every penny that I have. If they think, that's fraud, let them say that," Le said.

Some of his customers aren't buying it.

"I feel The3Mien.com cheat me. They cheat me," Tan Nguyen said.

Police continue to investigate this case and no formal charges have been filed. Anyone with any information about this case is encouraged to call Detective Ngo in the fraud division at (408) 277-4521.


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