Smitten Elderly Man Scammed by 'Sweetheart'

A Campbell man is now heart-broken and bankrupt after a five-month affair with young Elk Grove woman.


A beautiful brunette bombshell allegedly conned a love struck elderly Campbell man and now faces a felony charge of theft from an elder, authorities reported Friday.

An Elk Grove resident, 30-year-old Samantha Pham received a luxury Lexus and a $200,000 investment in a her fledgling company from the victim, who eventually lost his home and filed for bankruptcy, according to a Santa Clara County District Attorney press release.

"Ms. Pham criminally took advantage of a lonely, elderly man," Deputy District Attorney Cherie Bourlard said. "Unfortunately, this is such a common scenario that it has a nickname: The Sweetheart Scam. It is unconscionable."

According to the District Attorney's Office, Pham allegedly began the scam in April 2009 by cold-calling the victim, then visiting and flirting with him.

Throughout the relationship, the victim gave Pham his ex-wife’s diamond ring and he refinanced his home—which according to the DA he owned, free and clear—to lend Pham money to invest in a financial company she wanted to start, called Western Financial. Pham even brought the victim to sign a lease for an Elk Grove Office space. The victim maxed out his credit card to buy her office furniture. Then he bought her a $73,000 Lexus.

At a point, the release states, the victim realized he could no longer afford his home, so Pham convinced him to sell it, with Pham pocketing close to $7,000 in a "referral fee."

By September 2009, Pham broke off all contact with the elderly man. The office was never furnished and the office lease abandoned. The victim filed for bankruptcy and called police.

The District Attorney found that the financial company Pham allegedly started was her boyfriend’s "and almost $50,000 of the victim’s pilfered money went to pay off the victim in another criminal case Pham faced in Nevada."

Authorities arrested Pham on Jan. 16, 2013 and investigators found luxury Louis Vuitton items at her home. According to the DA, the man who repossessed the Lexus later told investigators that several months earlier he had repossessed from her a $100,000 BMW. The investigator also discovered that between 2009 and 2012, Pham had gambled away more than $1 million at the Red Hawk Casino in Placerville.

In Santa Clara County, the Elk Grove resident faces a felony charge of theft from an elder and could face up to six years in prison, if convicted. She is scheduled to be arraigned Friday afternoon, at 1:45 p.m. in Department 23 of the Hall of Justice.

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Yolanda Perez January 18, 2013 at 09:45 PM
What a witch!! I hope she gets the full punisment of the law and is in jail for a long time! Wish I was a juror on this one...
Kim Possible January 18, 2013 at 09:56 PM
Kim Possible January 18, 2013 at 09:57 PM
probably because its an old man? And we care about the elderly...
Joe Holt January 18, 2013 at 10:34 PM
"There's no fool like an old fool". Time tested maxim.
L.A. Chung January 19, 2013 at 10:23 PM
This is a very common scam, and it's heartbreaking because this man has no money during a time in his life when he will need it. It works because elderly people are isolated and vulnerable. When I attended an identity theft workshop in Palo Alto, Santa Clara County Sheriff's investigative unit told people to look out for their elderly neighbors and engage them in conversation, become aware and try to assist, before financial ruin takes place. This gentleman is now without a home when he once owned one, free and clear. There is some contact information here from the county: http://www.sccgov.org/sites/opa/nr/Documents/126457issue9_10.pdf


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