Online clothing business owners arrested for customs fraud, money laundering

Owners were sending money to China

FRESNO, Calif. -  

According to authorities, three online clothing business owners were arrested for customs fraud and money laundering on Tuesday.

32-year-old Hoang Minh Nguyen, 32-year-old Dung Hang Dao, and 37-year-old Nga Thien Nguyen, all of San Jose, were arrested and charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States of customs duties, mail fraud, structuring of cash transactions and money laundering.

On Jan. 31, a federal grand jury returned a 23-count indictment, which was unsealed Tuesday following the defendants’ arrest.

According to court documents, between Nov. 2008 and Jan. 2013, Hoang Minh Nguyen and Dung Hanh Dao owned and operated several companies based in Patterson and San Jose that imported clothing and merchandise from China.

According to the indictment, when the companies would receive orders from customers, Hoang Minh Nguyen and Dung Hanh Dao would place orders with suppliers in China and have the goods sent directly to the United States.

However, Hoang Minh Nguyen and Dung Hanh Dao would declare the goods as samples, even though they intended to sell the goods to customers at retail value, in violation of U.S. customs regulations. In selling clothing and merchandise declared as samples, Hoang Minh Nguyen and Dung Hanh Dao defrauded the United States of customs duties owed on those imports.

It is alleged that the companies have collected more than $3 million in sales from customers located throughout the United States.

With the proceeds from their business, Hoang Minh Nguyen and Dung Hanh Dao sent significant amounts of cash to China via Western Union money transfers. They broke up the cash deposits to Western Union agents into amounts of $10,000 or less in an attempt to prevent Western Union from filing Currency Transaction Reports on those transactions.

The indictment also alleges that Nga Thien Nguyen, accompanied by her brother, Hoang Minh Nguyen, opened a bank account with Citibank on January 5, 2012. Nga Thien Nguyen allowed her brother access to the account so that he could deposit more than $215,000 in cash into the bank account. It is alleged that Hoang Minh Nguyen broke up the cash deposits into amounts of $10,000 or less in an attempt to prevent the bank from filing Currency Transaction Reports on those transactions, in violation of the Bank Secrecy Act.

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