French tourists cheated at Vietnam major airport

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An employee of Saigon Air Taxi hands out money to French tourists whom they had cheated during an earlier exchange

Two employees of a taxi company unauthorized to exchange money managed to cheat dozens of French tourists who sought the service at Tan Son Nhat International Airport.

Nguyen Huu Quang, vice director of the Saigon Airport Corporation's Saigon Air Taxi, said the two employees had been identified as Duoc and Dung, and that they had been dismissed.

"Their violations are clear. We will never accept behavior that spoils Vietnam's image among foreign tourists," he said, without mentioning the firm's responsibility over its employees' wrongdoings.

The incident took place on May 10 when a group of 33 French tourists arrived at Ho Chi Minh City's sole international airport, all of them going to the same counter to exchange their euro for Vietnamese dong.

They were only realized they had been cheated upon arriving at the Saigon Central Post Office, where they became aware of the proper exchange rate.

Their tour guide, Tran Thi Kim Hong, said the exchange rate at the post office was VND2.7 million for 100 euro, but the tourists had only been given VND2.07 million at the airport for the same amount.

The group's leader, Mene Patrick, said every tourist had exchanged money at the airport at the fraudulent rate.

Hong said the furious tourists decided to return to the airport.

The airport guards refused to let them approach the counter, accusing them of being unable to produce receipts.

They only allowed them entrance after the tourists threatened to complain to the highest aviation and tourism authorities in Vietnam.

Immediately upon seeing the tourists, Duoc and Dung, took out the money they had skimmed off the top and paid them.

Hong said the tourists resumed their tour after receiving the correct amount of money.

However, she said it further angered her when Duoc and Dung offered her a bribe to keep silent about their scam.

The duo even went so far as to track down Hong at a restaurant in the city where she had accompanied the tourists. She said she didn't know how they learned the details of the tour's itinerary.

Do Xuan Toan, director of the Tan Son Nhat Aviation Security Center (TASC), told Thanh Nien his agency found out that the swindling money changers worked for Saigon Air Taxi.

"Remarkably, this company is not licensed to exchange money at the airport," he said.

Dang Tuan Tu, the airport's director, said he had instructed Saigon Air Taxi to take corrective actions.

"Otherwise, we will propose to [higher authorities] that their license to operate at Tan Son Nhat Airport be revoked," he said.

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