A Ho Chi Minh City court on Wednesday sentenced eight people to up to six years in prison, saying they have robbed hundreds of foreigners by staging chaotic crash scenes.
Tran Thi Tuyet Mai and Nguyen Thi Xuan Hang, two female leaders of the 13-member gang, received a six-year term each, while the others, aged from 18-53, got between one and five years.
According to the case file, Mai, 49, was arrested together with five of her accomplices on June 25 when they were attempting to rob an iPhone from a South Korean tourist at the corner of Ham Nghi-Nam Ky Khoi Nghia in the city downtown.
Further investigation led to the arrests of seven more, including Trinh Quang Trung, who owned a phone shop in District 4 where robbed properties were traded.
According to police, the gang's modus operandi usually involved its members riding a motorcycle and approaching a potential “prey”, often a foreign tourist.
They would then try to collide with the prey and create a chaotic scene for other members to get in and take away valuable properties from the victims.
The gang confessed of staging more than 200 accidents, not only in HCMC but also in popular tourist destinations like Vung Tau, Binh Thuan and Nha Trang.
The first cases reportedly took place around mid 2013.
In HCMC, they frequented backpackers' areas, Ben Thanh Market and main streets including Le Loi, Ham Nghi, Nguyen Hue, Ly Tu Trong and Nam Ky Khoi Nghia.