A photo of the Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral in Ho Chi Minh City's District 1 shown in Lin's FB page. Lin took this picture before boarding a Vinasun taxi (not in picture) with a cabbie she said scammed her husband out of VND1.5 million.
Lin, a tourist from Singapore, is no stranger to Ho Chi Minh City’s often less-than-savory ways. The 31-year-old has visited the city many times, but now may never return after her husband was the victim of a scam taxi driver earlier this month.
The incident began on December 1 when Lin, her husband and parents took a 1-km-long taxi ride in District 1 from the Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral to Ben Thanh Market.
Lin had already been warned about scam taxis in Vietnam, so she knew to look for Vinasun, one company with a more-reliable reputation.
“I was cautioned (but not enough) and made sure that we boarded a ‘real’ Vinasun having to hear all sort [sic] of scam taxi incidents in Ho Chi Minh City,” she said.
The driver brought them to their destination immediately, but that’s where things went wrong.
Lin said her husband, who was in the front passenger seat, tried to give the driver VND30,000 (US$1.33) to cover the VND27,000 fare that the meter displayed.
But the driver would not accept the money.
“He then took out a newspaper and started writing ’27’ and kept pointing and demanded such sum from us,” Lin said. “We were both confused and my husband thought he wanted an exact amount [rather] than having to give us a change.”
According to Lin, when her husband was looking for smaller notes in his wallet, the driver took the newspaper out again and after seemingly becoming impatient, began raising his voice.
The cabbie then covered Lin’s husband’s wallet with the newspaper while telling them the fare was “27," as written on the paper.
The driver later accepted VND26,000 from Lin’s husband, and demanded the passengers get out of the taxi before he drove away.
“My husband checked his wallet after…and realized that at least VND1.5 million [about US$67] was gone,” Lin said. “It was too late as the taxi was nowhere to be seen.”
A bad taste
On her Facebook page, Lin advised others to be careful, “when you are on board any taxi, either in Vietnam or anywhere you are.”
“This newspaper trick apparently is not a new trick but we would say this taxi driver is a professional,” she wrote.
A Vietnamese man later helped Lin complain to Vinasun and the company replied to her in an email.
Vinasun told Lin that the driver, Tuong To Trung, was a former employee and was sacked in 2014. However, the company is aware he is conspiring with active Vinasun drivers, who allow him to drive their cars, according to Vinasun’s email to Lin.
After leaving Vinasun, Trung has been involved in a number of cases in which he allegedly stole money from foreigners in District 1, the company told Lin.
Nguyen Hoang Tam of Vinasun's communications department told Thanh Nien News that Vinasun is coordinating with District 1 police to solve Lin’s case.
Tam added that Vinasun is verifying the identity of the driver who lent the taxi to Trung before it takes appropriate measures.
Lin said she has visited Ho Chi Minh City often since 2011, but this time “it didn’t leave a good impression and memory.”
“Taxi scam has gone worse [sic] in HCMC and affecting how tourists see and feel about Vietnam,” she said. “As much as I would love to visit HCMC again…this incident would hold me back.”