FIRST ON KIRO: Police say con artist targeted Vietnamese victims as DSHS employee

by: Amy Clancy Updated:

SEATTLE -  Police are warning about a woman posing as a DSHS employee to steal money from very vulnerable victims, and detectives believe there could be many more targets who have not yet come forward, possibly because of the language barrier between themselves and police.

Oanh Nguyen, 39, is a native Vietnamese speaker who allegedly targeted other Vietnamese-only speakers in DSHS offices in White Center and South Seattle, according to investigators with the King County Sheriff’s Office.

  Sgt. Cindi West tells KIRO 7, “A lot of her victims do not speak English.  They strictly speak Vietnamese, and they are led to believe that she is an employee of DSHS and so she gains their trust.”

Nguyen reportedly got away with more than $60,000 by getting at least six victims to deposit fraudulent checks into their accounts. Her victims, investigators say, would then give Nguyen cold hard cash.

Nguyen also allegedly promised to pay peoples’ mortgages but didn’t, resulting in at least one foreclosure, and apparently lining her own pockets with another $30,000.

Nguyen was arrested late last week and released from jail on her own recognizance.

Monday, no one answered the door at Nguyen’s Beacon Hill home, a new-looking house with a view of the city.

Not only is Nguyen now  banned from DSHS facilities because of the alleged thefts.  She’s also under investigation for welfare fraud, because the DSHS tells KIRO 7 that Nguyen is receiving welfare benefits from the state herself.

Nguyen could face felony charges of theft, forgery, identity theft and unlawful issuance of bank checks.

If you, or someone you know may have been targeted by Oanh Nguyen, contact King County Community Service Officer Peter Truong at 206-423-2932, or the Burien Precinct of the King County Sheriff’s Office at  206-296-3333.