86°F
weather icon Partly Cloudy

AG looks at alleged scam using secretary of state website

The Nevada attorney general’s office is investigating a claim that a scammer stole land in Las Vegas through false business documents filed with the Nevada secretary of state, the Review-Journal has learned.

Idaho-based property developer Andy Pham said he discovered in 2016 that someone had logged onto the secretary of state’s website and removed him as the managing member of Caballos De Oro Estates LLC, a Nevada company that held five acres of undeveloped land in northwest Las Vegas. Pham and a group of investors purchased the property in 2005 for $4.95 million. In his place was James Kalhorn, a Colorado Springs dentist who records show has a history of falsely billing patients and insurance companies.

In March 2017, Pham said he learned that Kalhorn had moved ownership of the land to another LLC, borrowed nearly $2 million on it from private lenders and defaulted on the loans. Pham filed a lawsuit that month against Kalhorn, alleging that he stole the property from him, in part, through fraudulent business records filed with the Nevada secretary of state.

In May, a Review-Journal investigation detailed Pham’s story and found that the secretary of state lacks safeguards to prevent fraudsters from submitting fake records. In response to the story, state lawmakers are now considering legislation to stop scammers from taking over Nevada businesses and exploiting their assets.

At a Clark County District Court hearing on Monday, Pham’s attorney, John R. Holiday, told Judge David M. Jones that the attorney general’s office has opened an investigation into the case. After the hearing, Holiday said that he had spoken with an attorney general investigator and shared exhibits with the office.

“They’re looking into criminal charges,” Holiday said.

Attorney General Adam Laxalt’s office could not confirm or deny the existence of an investigation. But in May, Chief Deputy Secretary of State Scott Anderson said his office sent the case to the attorney general in March after learning about Pham’s lawsuit. The Review-Journal asked the secretary of state about Pham’s lawsuit in January.

Kalhorn’s attorney, Paul Ray, said he did not know anything about an investigation of his client. “I don’t know if it’s true,” he said.

Contact Brian Joseph at bjoseph@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-5208. Follow @bjoseph1 on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
THE LATEST