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Oahu Man Sentenced To Federal Prison For Fraudulent Check Scheme
By News Release @ 6:00 PM :: 858 Views :: Law Enforcement

Oahu Man Sentenced To Federal Prison For Fraudulent Check Scheme

News Release from U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Hawaii, Friday, May 10, 2024

HONOLULU – Senior United States District Judge Helen Gillmor sentenced Phong Duy Le, 49, of Honolulu, Hawaii to 29 months in federal prison on May 7, 2024, for bank fraud. Le had earlier appeared before U.S. Magistrate Judge Kenneth J. Mansfield on April 20, 2023, and pled guilty to a 13-count Indictment.

The court found that Le engaged in 19 fraudulent transactions and attempted to obtain $959,870 from the financial institutions. The court further found that Le successfully defrauded the institutions out of $262,315.15. Le told the court he committed the offenses due to a gambling addiction resulting in losses at casinos in Las Vegas.

According to information produced to the court, between August 2015 and November 2015, Le defrauded nine financial institutions in Hawaii and elsewhere by depositing checks and electronic payments into accounts that he held, knowing that the deposits were not backed with sufficient funds. In one scheme, commonly known as “check kiting,” Le falsely inflated the balance on a bank account by depositing and then immediately withdrawing funds from the account, which temporarily resulted in a positive balance on the account. Le then quickly spent the funds in the account and any associated line of credit before the bank realized the initial deposit was not backed with sufficient funds.

Other information provided to the court reflected that Le also perpetrated a related “credit bust-out” scheme, which involved applying for and obtaining a credit card from a financial institution and then incurring charges up to the credit limit of the card. Le then wrote bad checks to the financial institution in amounts in excess of the payment due on his credit card, knowing that these checks were not backed with sufficient funds. The financial institution then posted the amount of the bad checks to Le’s account and restored Le’s credit line, thereby giving Le access to funds above the credit limit on his credit card. Le then used the credit card to make additional purchases before the financial institution discovered Le’s payments were fraudulent and reversed the credits posted to his account.

This investigation was conducted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Gregg Paris Yates handled the prosecution.

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