The Hanoi police Thursday fined four shoeshiners VND2 million (US$90) each for forcing foreign tourists to use their services and extorting high prices.
A day earlier news website Zing carried a video about a shoeshine and repair scam targeting foreign tourists in the popular old quarter.
In the video, the shoeshiners suddenly yank off the shoes of three South Korean tourists who are walking on Cau Go Street, polish them and demand money.
As the tourists disagree with the prices, a shoeshiner grabs one of them by the shirt. The tourists then decide to pay and leave.
Also in the video, an American named Chris says he was charged VND850,000 ($38) after his sandals were forcefully taken off and given running repairs.
The four shoeshiners in the video are Pham Van Chung, 32, Pham Van Quynh, 28, Vien Dinh Nam, 32, and Tran Van Chien, 22 from the northern provinces of Thanh Hoa and Hung Yen.
Chung and Quynh had been summoned by the police in September and again fined VND2 million for the same offense.
Major Tong Dang Cong, the crime police chief of Hanoi’s Hoan Kiem District, told Zing that VND2 million is the maximum for harassing and overcharging tourists.
But since it does not deter shoeshiners like Chung and Quynh, the police have urged relevant authorities to increase the fine, he said.
The police have not investigated the shoeshine scam much because foreign tourists typically do not report cases, he said.
Even in this case, when the police did step in following the video, the foreign victims had left the city, he added.