Lam Duc Vu avoids jail for fake payslip scam that helped Vietnamese migrants get home loans

A mortgage broker who provided fake payslips to banks to help Vietnamese migrants buy homes says he helped people get loans and his crimes caused no harm.

Lam Duc Vu – who served as a justice of the peace for more than 30 years – was spared jail for giving banks in Westpac, Bendigo and Adelaide payslips that were fake or had been altered with higher pay rates to secure home loans worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The 73-year-old pleaded guilty in district court earlier this year to 11 counts of dishonest handling of documents between 2015 and 2017.

At sentencing, Judge Paul Muscat said Vu did not create the forged documents, he gave them to the bank on behalf of his clients knowing they were forged.

“Although the loans have been repaid so far by each of the borrowers, this may not always be the case in the future, especially with rising interest rates,” he said. .

“However, all loans are secured on properties that would have appreciated over the years, so the banks would be able to collect their debt.”

Loan applicants have since purchased properties they otherwise would not have been able to obtain.(ABC News: Carl Saville)

Judge Muscat said it was also of concern that Vu lost his job as a mortgage broker with the Australian Financial Group earlier after Westpac raised concerns about false documents.

Vu then started his own business – Ideal Home Loans and Financial Services – where the breach occurred.

Vu, who came to Australia as a refugee, also helped establish a charity – the Vietnam Welfare Service – which helped members of the Vietnamese community complete their tax returns and apply for bank loans.

Bare branches covering a tall beige building in the background
Vu was sentenced in Adelaide District Court on Friday. (ABC News: Che Chorley)

Judge Muscat said Vu was paid between $500 and $2,000 in cash for his services, with the transaction often taking place in bank parking lots.

“You let down many people in the Vietnamese community who trusted you to apply for loans on their behalf and do so legally,” Judge Muscat said.

“By acting as you have done, you have brought upon yourself great shame.

“I just help people”

Judge Muscat said he was confident Vu had learned a hard lesson, was remorseful and would not offend again.

He sentenced Vu to four years and nine months in prison, but concluded there were good reasons to suspend that sentence given his age and lack of criminal history.

Vu accepted an 18-month good behavior bond.

In court, Vu said he was helping people and that his crime caused no harm.

“I tried to help everybody…because 40 years ago I came to Australia – the boat people – when I come here I want to try to help everybody because Australians m are already helping,” he said.

“The reason I’m not going to jail is because I made a mistake with the bank and I’m just helping people.

“No damage to the bank, no damage to the customer, no damage to the witness, there is nothing I am helping.

“No money in my pocket.”

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