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Charges: Charity worker from Woodbury stole 300 identities

He used the accounts to pay for goods, services, and even unemployment arrears.
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A worker for a homeless charity has been charged with stealing the identities of more than 300 people in the Twin Cities.

Washington County Attorney Pete Orput announced that Hai Jay Phu Vu, 53, of Woodbury, has been charged with identity theft and obtaining unemployment benefits through false representation.

The thefts were carried out while he worked at House of Charity, a Minneapolis nonprofit helping the homeless, from which he was fired for disciplinary reasons in February 2017.

After he was fired, he applied for unemployment benefits – wrongly telling the state that he hadn't received any severance money – and proceeded to get into overdrafts on his unemployment account.

Each time, he would pay off the overdraft from different bank accounts, which state investigators then found belonged to five donors to the House of Charity, whose accounts had also been used by Vu to pay for insurance and private school fees.

It emerged that he had taken the donors' personal information while he worked at House of Charity, and then applied for credit cards, bought goods and made withdrawals from their accounts.

Further investigation revealed he'd taken financial information from more than 300 donors.

"We have found that the frequency of identity theft is greatly increasing," Orput said. "It is important for us all to guard our personal information zealously. The potential fallout in failing to do so can be economically disastrous for the victims."

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