Furniture dealer's scam lands him in jail

MURRIETA, Calif. /*Sofa & More Furniture*/ has been operating for over two years in a busy mini-mall in Murrieta. The store is owned by 38-year-old Hung Nguyen. Nguyen has been charged with grand theft and embezzlement.

"One of our patrol officers noticed that we were getting an increased amount of calls for service regarding civil complaints at the business, so he researched further and he found out that the civil complaints were really criminal action by the owner," said Dennis Vrooman, /*Murrieta Police Dept.*/ "What he was doing was he was accepting money for payment for the furniture and then was not placing the order with the manufacturer, never ordering it for the customer."

Steve Conway brought the sales slip to investigators showing that he paid Nguyen $2,700 for a desk.

"He told me it'd be four to six weeks," said alleged victim Steve Conway. "I went in there about two months later after it hadn't come and told him, 'Where's my desk?' and he gave me one excuse, and I went in one month later, he gave me another excuse. That went on for about six months."

The desk was never delivered, nor was several hundred dollars' worth of furniture ordered by Tarek Ayoub.

"I paid him in cash by the end of December, some merchandise worth about $2,100, and expected the merchandise to be ready in about a week," said alleged victim Tarek Ayoub. "It's obviously a slow time and people don't buy too many furniture by Christmas time. But a week, and two, and three passed by and there were no actions, and it became apparent that I was in the middle of a fraudulent transaction and dealing with a store that sort of engaged in fraud."

The number of potential victims has grown to 20, the losses approaching $20,000. Eyewitness News attempted to reach Nguyen for comment, but was not successful.

The sign says "open seven days a week," but the front door was locked Friday. Nguyen has posted bail, he's out, and the city is contemplating action to take away his business license.



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