HCMC cabby probed for robbing Japanese tourist

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Police in Ho Chi Minh City's Pham Ngu Lao Ward are investigating a taxi driver for allegedly overcharging a Japanese tourist and stealing her luggage, according to a report by Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper.

The Sai Gon Hoang Long Taxi Company has suspended Nguyen Thanh Hai pending the results of a police investigation.

Authorities at Tan Son Nhat International Airport have permanently banned Hai from operating there.

At midnight on March 29, Ono Ayumi, a 27-year-old Japanese tourist, hailed Hai's taxi at the Tan Son Nhat airport to head for De Tham Street in District 1.

According to Ayumi, after the taxi arrived at the destination, the meter read: VND252,000. When Ayumi handed Hai a VND500,000 note, he showed three fingers to indicate three bills.

When Ayumi produced two additional VND500,000 notes, Hai allegedly grabbed all three notes from her.

He continued to demand more, driving the tourist to an ATM booth for her to withdraw cash. As soon as she entered the booth, he drove away with her luggage still in the cab.

With the help of some Vietnamese friends, Ayumi reported the case to the taxi company which determined that Hai had been the driver.

At first, Hai did not admit to robbing the tourist of her luggage, prompting her to ask police in Pham Ngu Lao Ward, where the incident took place, and in Ward 2 of Tan Binh District, which has jurisdiction over Tan Son Nhat airport, to intervene.

The airport's security center said a camera showed Ayumi in possession of two bags when she entered the taxi.

After being interrogated, Hai admitted to taking VND1.5 million from Ayumi and promised to "find" her luggage.

He then returned the money and most of the property in the luggage to the tourist.

Hai claimed he could not find some clothes and cosmetic products, so the Sai Gon Hoang Long Taxi Company paid Ayumi VND3 million in compensation.

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