Thanh Viet "Jeremy" Cao, of Orange County, was sentenced to 30 years in prison on May 16th after convictions of mail and wire fraud. It is said to be one of the most severe punishments ever given for San Diego financial crime. Almost 200 people were taken in by the alleged scheme, supposedly netting Cao $12.4 million.
Cao allegedly ran a series of Ponzi schemes over a period of six years. He brought clients in with promises of high-yield investments such as real estate, mortgages, and international transactions. Some of these victims were reeled in through San Diego investment seminar scams. Much of the money came out of clients’ retirement and college savings, leaving many of the victims in complete financial ruin. When the victims asked for more information about their money, Cao is said to have often become threatening.
Beyond the investment scam charges, Cao also has a history of convictions in Orange County for threatening to murder a former business associate and his family. Cao also began filing false liens against investigators, judges, and prosecutors when his businesses came under scrutiny in 2007.
Judge Larry A. Burns states that the severe sentence in this case came after considering Cao's conduct, which showed a "pattern of belligerence and obstruction.”