Md. police investigate woman charged with embezzling $900K from York-area company

Aimee Ambrose
York Dispatch

A woman charged with embezzling more than $900,000 from a York County employer is now under investigation for allegedly stealing from another company this year, police in Maryland confirmed.

Phuong Nguyen-Davis, 55, worked in accounting and administrative roles at small businesses, had access to corporate credit cards and used them to funnel money to herself, according to allegations in both incidents.

She was charged with 20 felonies — one count of theft and 19 counts of unauthorized access of a device — last month following an investigation into credit card fraud at Advanced Fluid Systems Inc. in Hellam Township.

Phuong Nguyen-Davis from 2014

A news report on the case caught the attention of Hareen Aparakakankanange, the CEO of Aerolab, an aerospace company in Jessup, Maryland. He reached out to The York Dispatch and alleged that Nguyen-Davis also defrauded the business while she worked there over the summer.

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Based on court records, that would have been while she was under investigation in York County. Aerolab wasn’t aware of the situation at the time, Aparakakankanange said.

“We had no idea. We trusted this person,” Aparakakankanange said. “I would have never hired her.”

Aerolab lost between $12,000 and $14,000, he said.

He has filed a complaint with police in Howard County, Maryland. The sheriff’s office there confirmed an investigation is underway.

“We have that case, and it’s active,” said Detective Ryan McCrone.

Nguyen-Davis, also known as Fawn Davis, did not respond to attempts to contact her.

A no trespassing notice signed by Constable Chuck Green is taped to the door of Nguyen-Davis' home.

She was charged in the case involving AFS Inc. on Aug. 26, nearly three months after Hellam Township Police began investigating a complaint filed by the company’s president, Jim Vaughn.

As police and the company investigated, they uncovered allegedly fraudulent credit card charges over about five years, dating back to 2017, when Nguyen-Davis started working for AFS in accounts receivable and human resources, according to the criminal complaint in the case.

Investigators alleged she used company credit cards and several more that were opened in the company’s name or in Vaughn’s name.

Charges to 19 cards, including Home Depot accounts, totaled $915,045, police said. Alleged payments included those for flights, car leases, appliances, groceries and medical appointments, as well as apparently Nguyen-Davis’ electric bills.

Hellam Township Police Department in Hellam Township, Thursday, Dec. 12, 2019. Dawn J. Sagert photo

She also allegedly funneled about half of the total — $478,357 — to bank accounts through a merchant she apparently set up called D&G Serviced, according to police. That business was set up via the Square retail service in 2019 under the name of a man she knows.

“I’ve been screwed big time for trusting people,” Vaughn told the Dispatch.

Vaughn said he hired Nguyen-Davis while she was a single mother of two.

Vaughn held himself responsible for not keeping a close enough eye on Nguyen-Davis while he, as an engineer, concentrated on other aspects of the business, which manufactures hydraulic power units and advanced motor controls.

He said he makes it a point to treat the company’s 47 employees as partners.

“I had compassion for her,” he said. “I overlooked the checks and balances I should’ve looked at because I had compassion for her, and I trusted her.”

Aparakakankanange said Aerolab hired Nguyen-Davis as a business manager on June 27, nearly a month into the Hellam Township investigation.

At the time, he said, Nguyen-Davis seemed like an ideal candidate.

“Her resume was flawless. And she interviewed really well,” Aparakakankanange said. “All the things that we needed her to do, she claimed she was able to do it.”

About a month into the job, he started suspecting Nguyen-Davis wasn’t delivering on the skills she said she had. So he had his accountant look into her work, a review that confirmed his suspicions, he alleged.

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Aparakakankanange said he started to uncover the alleged fraud when he noticed a nearly $1,000 charge for an Airbnb stay. He said company managers usually charge such stays to their own credit cards, not to the company’s.

From there, he discovered fraudulent credit card charges and some false payrolls, he alleged.

Several charges, he alleged, went to a PayPal account under the name “Davis Photography.” He said she sent the PayPal invoices to the company and then used company money to pay those bills.

When Aparakakankanange confronted Nguyen-Davis, she allegedly told him she might have accidentally used the company’s credit card since it’s similar to her personal one.

He said he went to get his computer so Aerolab could invoice her for the charges. But in the process, he alleged, she left $1,000 in cash for him and disappeared.

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Since his situation is similar to Vaughn’s, Aparakakankanange said he believes Nguyen-Davis’ other employers should check back through their records.

“I’m fortunate enough to where I caught her this early,” he said. “What needs to happen, I guess, it’s like for every job ... she’s worked at to see what she’s done.”

He said Nguyen-Davis worked at Aerolab until Aug. 23, which was a few days before the charges in the AFS Inc. case were filed.

Court records show she was arrested Sept. 8 and posted $15,000 bail through a surety bond.

She also has a history of legal issues involving criminal and civil cases in York County and Maryland, according to court data in both places.

— Reach Aimee Ambrose at aambrose@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @aimee_TYD.