Robberies, scams by foreigners on the rise in Vietnam: reports

Thanh Nien News

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A foreigner arrested in Ho Chi Minh City for allegedly trying to steal money. Photo credit: Lao Dong/Phung Bac A foreigner arrested in Ho Chi Minh City for allegedly trying to steal money. Photo credit: Lao Dong/Phung Bac


There have been a rise in robberies and thefts committed by foreigners in Vietnam as locals were too friendly to put up their guard, local media reported, citing police.
Reports from victims said the foreigners usually pretended to buy something from a local shop, or asked to exchange money. 
Then the foreigners would either confuse the victims and make them give more money than they should, or just grab the money and flee.
Officers in Dong Nai Province on October 6 arrested three Pakistani men aged 27, 40 and 52 after a local woman reported that they came to her shop but “looked suspicious.”
The three have admitted to stealing money from several shops in the area by asking to exchange money and trying to confuse the victims during the process. 
Police in Da Nang on September 30 arrested three Iranians who allegedly pretended to exchange money to rob a bag containing VND100 million ($4,500) from a local shop owner.
A similar case happened in Ho Chi Minh City the same day when a foreigner snatched VND2.7 million (US$121) from a shop owner and fled with another foreigner and a Vietnamese by car.
Police are still looking for the trio.
An investigator from the southern city told Lao Dong newspaper that such crimes have occurred more often as Vietnamese people are usually not cautious with foreigners.
Even bank employees are among the victims.
On September 28, HCMC police arrested 32-year-old Iranian Choobani Shirvani Mehdi after a teller in the city downtown caught him stealing.
She reportedly showed him a wad of $100 bills so that he could choose a new bill to exchange for an old one that he brought in. He somehow managed to steal 16 bills from her but got caught soon later.
Hanoi police said they have received reports of at least six money exchange scams since July, news website VnExpress reported.
The latest one happened at a tourism promotion center in the downtown Hoan Kiem District as two foreign men came to ask about tours before they asked to exchange some Vietnamese dong for $3,000 at a rate higher than banks.
They came back several hours later, smiling happily and asked for another $3,000.
They came again that night and asked for $60,000. But after checking the $100 bills at the center, they decided that they would not take them.
After they left, the center’s employees counted the money again and found that most of the $100 bills had been swapped into $1 bills. 
Police are still looking for the duo, allegedly from Georgia.
More than three months ago, a foreign man was caught by an eatery owner in the southern town of Ba Ria, who accused him of robbing her money and attempting to flee in a car.
The man was identified by the police in Ba Ria-Vung Tau province as Iranian national Mahmood Khadem Poshteh.
 A foreigner, identified as Iranian national Mahmood Khadem Poshteh, is suspected of stealing money from several shops in Ba Ria Town, Ba Ria-Vung Tau Province on July 23, 2015. Photo: Nguyen Long
Nguyen Thi Nghia, who runs an eatery in Ba Ria, said the man arrived in the afternoon on July 23 to buy some snack and soft drink. He gave her two VND200,000 notes and one VND100,000 note to exchange for a VND500,000 note.
The 44-year-old woman said Mahmood demanded that she find him a VND500,000 note with the letters “VN" in its serial number, so she took out a bundle of cash worth about VND36 million to find one for him.
The man suddenly “grabbed the money from me,” Nghia said, adding when she tried to take it back, he “knocked me down to the ground.”
Nghia’s husband, Nguyen Van Tuan, chased the suspect, who ran back to the car with the money and tried to flee with a woman and a little girl who were sitting in the car.
“I seized him by the collar, but he managed to reached the car, and [the woman] in the car already opened the door and started the car for him,“ Tuan said.
As the suspect tried to drive the car away, Tuan managed to grabbed hold of the steering wheel and drove the car into the wall of a church.
Other people in the neighborhood surrounded the car and reported to the police
There have also been many love scams by foreigners online. They pretended to be rich businessmen falling in love with local women and promised them expensive gifts, only to trick the victims into paying "shipment fees."
Several of such cases have been busted.

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