A reservation confirmation that Vi Tran has sent to a client
New South Wales police on Thursday said that they have arrested a woman accused of swindling at least A$360,000 (over US$250,000) from hundreds of Vietnamese students in Australia in a massive air ticket scam.
The 24-year-old Vietnamese woman was arrested at her home in Petersham, southwest of Sydney’s central business district, a police statement said, without mentioning her name.
The woman, who is charged with 10 counts of dishonestly obtaining financial advantage by deception, was granted conditional bail. She is expected to appear before a local court on February 3.
Police on January 7 started investigating an air ticket scam after receiving reports from hundreds of students.
Initial investigation found that the woman, known on Facebook as Vi Tran, cheated at least 317 Vietnamese students, who wanted to buy Vietnam Airlines tickets to return home for the coming Tet Lunar New Year holidays.
Tran offered to help them book the tickets at cheap prices. Each student would receive a reservation code from Tran after sending money to her account.
However, Tran allegedly canceled the bookings soon later, before the tickets were officially issued.
Many students in Melbourne and Sydney were denied when trying to check in at airports.
"Some people, they go to the airport and they check in and it says their ticket is invalid," Minh Nguyen, a course co-ordinator within the student group, told Fairfax Media in Australia earlier this month.
Many Vietnamese who are victims of a massive air ticket scam come to report their cases to the New South Wales Police. Photo credit: Emily Tran
Seeking answers, students of the group visited the woman's home in Petersham. However, the woman could not be found.
On Monday, a scanned copy of a letter from the NSW Police Force was posted on the Vietnamese Dynamic Students Facebook page, asking for "all people who believe they are victims of this fraud" to contact the police.
Nguyen said he and his friends were "quite happy" to hear the woman had been charged.
"Hopefully they recover what we have lost. Maybe later this afternoon we will try to get in contact with the police to find out the next stage," he told Sydney Morning Herald on Thursday.