Ho Chi Minh City police have recommended fraud charges for a Taiwanese-led gang that swindled unsuspecting locals by posing as police officers over the phone.
On Friday, police wrapped up their investigation into the gang and began seeking fraud charges against two Taiwanese men named Shih Pao Yu and Hsieh Ming Chi and their five Vietnamese accomplices: Chau Vi Hien, Dang Minh Sang, Nguyen Quoc Tuan, Huynh Kim Thang and Nguyen Thai Phuong.
The investigation began in February after a woman named Le in District 11 claimed she had been cheated out of VND170 million (US$8,000).
On February 24, a woman posing as a telephone company employee reportedly called Le and told her she owed around VND10 million ($470) for unpaid telephone calls.
When Le objected to the allegation, the woman said police would contact her about the matter.
Several minutes later, Le’s telephone rang again. This time, a man who introduced himself as an officer from the Hanoi Police Department, told her she had been identified as a suspect in a money laundering investigation.
Le protested, but the man said he knew her very well, and went on to reciting her personal details including the names of her family members.
Le became worried. When the man asked her to transfer VND170 million into a bank account controlled by investigators so that they could verify whether the money was “clean," she agreed.
She waited, but her money never came back to her account, so she reported the case to HCMC police.
The (actual) police found that VND20 million ($941) of her transferred funds had been withdrawn.
The rest had been funneled into the bank accounts controlled by Hien, Sang and Tuan--the three Vietnamese members of the gang.
These investigators caught the three men red-handed delivering Le's money to Shih and Hseih, the two Taiwanese gang leaders, at a coffee shop in District 5.
Police checked the hotel room where the Taiwanese men were staying and searched the homes of their Vietnamese accomplices.
They recovered numerous ATM cards, credit cards and other evidence allegedly related to the scheme.
Tuan told police all of the bank accounts had been set up by Phuong, another Vietnamese member of the gang.
Shih and Hseih confessed to police they had entered Vietnam on travel visas. They then hired Tuan and other Vietnamese men to open debit accounts in which to funnel the money they had stolen.
According to police, the gang successfully swindled VND970 million ($45,667) from five victims in HCMC during February alone.