Scammer poses as US colonel online, cheats 162 Vietnamese out of $400,000: police

By Le Lam, Thanh Nien News

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Police in the southern province of Dong Nai are investigating a case in which a foreigner allegedly swindled more than VND9 billion (US$398,600) from at least 162 Vietnamese.
The investigation was started in July after a local woman, who was referred to as Nguyen Thanh T., filed a complaint.
She accused a foreigner named Eric Townsend of cheating her out of over VND2.2 billion ($92,400), police said Monday.
She said he approached her on the Internet through Skype in April, claiming that he was a 53-year-old US military colonel who was based in Afghanistan.
He allegedly told her that his wife and two children were all killed in an air crash, and soon after their first chats, the man promised to fly to Vietnam to marry her. 
The man then said he had sent her a package including $1.8 million and some of his personal documents.
A man named Steven then kept sending her emails, saying he sent the package on behalf of Eric Townsend from the US, but customs demanded payment to clear the shipment.
T. said within one month since May, she made many transfers, worth more than VND2.2 billion in total, to Steven through six different bank accounts.
When they expanded the investigation, they found that at least 162 people transferred more than VND9 billion in total to the same bank accounts, police said, adding that they have so far identified 20 of them only.
The six bank accounts are all in Vietnam. One was opened by a Cambodian national and the others could have been opened by some of the victims of the scam, police said. 

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