Man pleads guilty in attempted Kranich’s Jewelers Rolex scam

A California man has admitted he attempted to buy an expensive watch in a Patton Township jewelry store as part of a scheme involving fake driver’s licenses and credit cards.

Phil Nguyen, of Garden Grove, pleaded guilty Friday in U.S. Middle District Court in Scranton to a wire fraud charge.

Until he was arrested in Centre County on July 20, Nguyen, with the help of others, used the scheme to buy Rolex, Omega and other luxury watches in a number of states.

He was caught because employees at Kranich’s Jewelers became suspicious and asked him to return to pick up the watch. When he did two days later he was arrested and has been jailed since.

Assistant U.S. Attorney George Rocktashel said in court Nguyen on July 18 attempted to buy a Rolex watch worth $11,700 from Kranich’s using a counterfeit California driver’s license and fake credit card to apply for an online loan.

The driver’s license contained Nguyen’s picture but the name of another California resident, he said.

The scheme, which involved others, involved searching online for jewelry stores authorized to sell expensive watches, the prosecutor said.

Fake documentation was used from September 2013 until Nguyen’s arrest to buy watches in New Jersey, New York, Nevada, Massachusetts, Florida, Michigan and in the Pittsburgh area, Rocktashel said.

The plea agreement requires him to make restitution of $114,191 and calls for the dismissal at sentencing of charges of fraud in connection with identification documents and access devices, interstate transportation of stolen property and aggravated identity theft.

Online loans using the fake documentation were obtained from Wells Fargo Credit Financing, TD Bank and GE Capital Credit Financing, Rocktashel said.

Nguyen, a native of Vietnam, is facing a maximum sentence of 10 years. The investigation is ongoing, Rocktashel said.