The Hanoi police Wednesday arrested a couple for allegedly cheating foreign tourists by posing as Red Cross employees and soliciting donations.
Officers nabbed Dang Van Dang and Nguyen Thi Thuy of Hai Duong Province near the Lenin Statue on Dien Bien Phu Street as they were approaching some foreigners.
When the police grabbed them, Thuy threw a Red Cross ID card into a nearby bush.
The two later confessed that they and other friends forged the ID cards and other documents to prey on gullible tourists.
The documents, written in six foreign languages, were handed to foreigners at tourist sites.
They also sold packs of toothpicks to tourists.
They admitted to carrying out their con for seven months, earning VND3000,000-400,000 (US$14-19) a day.
In Thuy's handbag, police found a notebook with the names of people who gave donations and the amount they gave.
There were donations of $100 and VND500,000, and the total came to tens of millions of dong.
The police are looking for the couple's accomplices.
They had been tipped off by correspondents of online newspaper VnExpress, who have been taking photos of some 10 frauds hanging around tourist sites like the Lenin Statue, Vietnam Military History Museum, and the Hoan Kiem (Sword) Lake and trying to cheat tourists.
Many fell into their trap, giving them money and signing their notebooks.
The reporters informed police in Dien Bien Ward.
Foreign tourists have vented grievance against a long list of woes that bedevil Vietnam's tourism sector: rip-offs, messy traffic, harassment by beggars and street vendors, pickpocketing and robbery, poor food safety and hygiene, and the lack of public toilets.
While authorities have repeatedly pledged actions to tackle the problems, little headway has been made and a spate of stories about tourists being ripped off over the past weeks in Hanoi has only highlighted it.