The Ministry of Public Security said Sunday they were investigating claims from two Vietnamese citizens who received fingers of their sons sent from Cambodian casinos, which forced them to pay a ransom for gambling losses.
On July 14, Nguyen Van Truoc, a 43-year-old resident in the Mekong Delta province of Ben Tre, reported to the police a strange man in his 40s delivered him a letter four days earlier.
The letter was written by his 19-year-old son, Nguyen Minh Tan, from a casino in Cambodia.
When Truoc opened the envelope, he was more than terrified to see another envelope, with a blood-stained letter and part of a right ring finger wrapped in it.
In the letter, Tan asked for his family to pay a ransom of US$3,000 or he would lose another part of his finger.
The following day, the family received two strange phone calls, asking them to pay a ransom or they would receive more of his fingers.
Tam recalled that on May 6, Tan told his family he was going to Ho Chi Minh City to work as a waiter. The following day, they learned that he lied and went to a Cambodian casino and lost $3,000 gambling.
In early July, the families received several phone calls asking them to pay a ransom but they could not afford it.
Truoc told the police it was not the first time Tan and his friends went to Cambodia for gambling.
In March, Tan lost $3,000 in a casino and was detained in Cambodia until Truoc managed to borrow the money from relatives and friends to rescue his son.
A month later, Tan followed his three neighbors to Cambodia and lost another $3,000. This time, Truoc had to sell his land plot to pay the gambling losses.
In another case, Bui Thi Tuyet Nhung, a 52-year-old woman in HCMC's District 10, on July 9 received a letter delivered by a strange man in his 60s.
She found part of a finger wrapped in a plastic pack and a letter with the handwriting of her 26-year-old son, Truong Toan.
Toan wrote in the letter he was being beaten in Cambodia after losing $2,000 in gambling.
"If our family does not pay the ransom in the next three days, I will be killed," Toan wrote.
Toan, a former officer of MHB Securities Joint Stock Company, started gambling in September 2007, according to Nhung.
He stole his family's money and gold, and borrowed money from his colleagues to gamble. In Cambodia, Toan lost it all.
In November 2009, he lost $2,000 and Nhung paid the ransom for his freedom.
In September 2010, he lost an additional $1,300 and was released after Nhung paid the ransom.
On June 12, Toan phoned home saying he lost $2,000, but this time Nhung told him she did not have any money left.
She asked an acquaintance to borrow money but he said that Toan had borrowed from him several times without paying the money back.
Police calling for testimony
On July 15, Social Order Crimes' Investigation Police Department under the Ministry of Public Security said they were investigating 20 gangs, with more than 330 members, for serving as intermediaries and loan sharks and detaining gambling losers for ransom in Cambodian casinos.
These casinos border Vietnamese provinces of Binh Phuoc, Tay Ninh, Long An, An Giang and Kien Giang.
The police are calling for victims of these crimes to report them to local authorities.