Back in 2005, a woman, living on disability in Chicago, was contacted online by a man, he apparently as lonely as she. He promised to marry her, said he could cure her health woes, according to the case laid out by prosecutors. Before they could be together, though, he told her she had to prove her love to him. She set up a web cam, and the man tuned in. He instructed her to "mutilate" herself, although exactly what that means is unclear. It is clear, though, that she did whatever he said.
The man's name is Duc Luu, a middle-aged naturalized U.S. citizen. He was born in Vietnam and has a second-grade education. His promises of marriage and relief from her medical issues was enough to make the woman move from the wintry north to Dallas. Once here, Luu groomed her to be a prostitute.
The grooming process took a year. He said it was a ritual she had to perform before they got married. Also, in order for her condition to be cured and them to be married, Luu told her, she had to get the "germs" of a thousand men. As her years with him dragged on, he continued to increase the number.
While he helped men steal the woman's body, Luu angled to take her money as well. The woman's mother was listed as the payee for her disability benefits. Luu changed that. He told her to remove her mom and add him. In all, he received about $16,000 in her benefits. He didn't use the money to help the woman.
Luu set up a bank account and told the woman to deposit the money she made into it. However, he told her, never make withdrawals. The woman made Luu more than $500,000. He would transfer the money from Texas to Vietnam and then withdraw cash while he was back in his native country.
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His relationship with the woman seems to have ended in 2010, and the year after he was indicted. He was living in Vietnam when his passport was revoked. Agents with the Department of Homeland Security picked him up in Vietnam and brought him back to Texas.
During his trial, Luu attempted to finagle a lighter sentence by claiming he didn't understand what he was pleading guilty to because his English was limited. An interpreter was with him throughout the trial, but prosecutors noted he spoke and comprehended English well enough to become a naturalized citizen.
He was charged with sex trafficking, fraud and money laundering, and was found competent to stand trial, before a federal judge who said he was "incapable of capturing [the crime's] heinousness in words," according to the U.S. Attorney's office. In a deal with prosecutor, Luu pleaded guilty only to money laundering, and he was sentenced last week to 14 years in federal prison. He was ordered to repay the victim $16,000, a fraction of what he stole from her.
Send your story tips the author, Sky Chadde.