A Hanoi court let a local man off with a three year suspended sentence on Tuesday for posing as the son of the chief of the municipal Communist Party unit and cheating an official out of US$15,000.
A judicial panel convicted Nguyen Tien Anh, 24, of abusing the fraud.
Anh learned that the Ministry of Public Security had agreed to allow Hanoi’s market managers to auction off huge shipments of luxury goods including Milano and Gucci products that were seized in a 2012 raid on a tax dodger.
Anh then approached Nguyen Thi Nhu Mai, director of Hanoi Market Management Agency and asked to buy the items, worth around VND100 billion (US$4.68 million), early last year. He introduced himself as Pham Quang Thanh, son of Pham Quang Nghi -- chief of the Hanoi Party Unit -- and who also serves as the deputy general director of the financial management subsidiary of Bao Viet, the country's leading insurer.
Mai then introduced the imposter to Hoang Dai Nghia, a senior market manager who was overseeing the sale of the seized goods.
In the end, Anh declined to buy the goods, citing an impasse on their pricing.
Months later, on June 24, he called Nghia from Singapore and asked to borrow $15,000 to pay for a medical procedure.
Nghia bought the story and transferred the money to Anh who blew it all on shopping and entertainment, according to the indictment.
Five days later, with no news or money, Nghia began looking into Anh's identity and found he had been cheated.
In July, he filed a police report that ultimately resulted in Anh's arrest and conviction.
Vague policies and heavy red tape in Vietnam have caused the public to develop a perception that government officials and their relatives are capable of arranging almost anything.
A number of fraudsters have used “official” camouflage to capitalize on that belief.
This month, police in the northern province of Thanh Hoa arrested a man who posed as an agent of the Government Office to solicit bribes from individuals and businesses.