Man seized over bomb threats against gold shops in Hanoi

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Police in Hanoi Friday said they have arrested a former art teacher for allegedly threatening to bomb two local gold shops in an attempt to extort money from them.

Hoang Quang Nguyen, 28, was seized on Wednesday as he picked up VND300 million (US$14,200) from a trash can near Nam Thang Long Bus Station, police said.

The money was to be paid to Nguyen by Nguyen Gia Hau, owner of Duc Chung gold shop in Cau Giay District, who received text messages with bomb threats from Nguyen, according to initial police reports.

Hau told police that since the beginning of October he had received messages from an unknown phone number, asking him for a loan of VND300 million or his shop would be exploded.

However, Hau did not respond to the messages until later when the sender called him, saying that he needed money because his business made losses. He also promised to pay the money back to Hau in between three and nine months with interests in accordance with bank rates.

After that Chung informed local police, but it was not until October 16 that Nguyen called Hau again, and asked him to place the money at the trash can for the ambush that night.

But, the man did not show up and turned off his mobile phone. The next day he called Chung again and was apprehended by police when picking money.

Police said Nguyen got Hau's mobile phone number when he posed as a customer at the shop earlier.

Nguyen, who hails from the northern province of Thai Nguyen, was also accused of making the same threats against Phu Nguyen gold shop, which is near Duc Chung shop, last month.

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Tran Kim Quyen, who runs the shop with her husband Do Phu Nguyen, said a man kept calling their shop's number, asking them to pay VND500 million ($23,700) or he would bomb the shop.

They then informed police, but the man did not call anymore. 

According to Nguyen's mother, Nguyen Thi Ha, the man once worked as an art teacher at an elementary school in Tuyen Quang province.

Later he quit the job to open an advertising company with his friend, she said.

He then used their house and her pension book as security for a bank loan of VND500 million, and borrowed another VND200 million ($9,500) from their relatives.

However, the business made losses and the friend fled, leaving Nguyen with all the debts, Ha said.

Police are investigating the case.

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