Vietnam police arrest local, Taiwanese in phone call fraud

By Dam Huy, Thanh Nien News

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Ho Nhat Khanh at a Ho Chi Minh City police station for joining a gang that allegedly cheated people’s money via phone calls. Photo by Dam Huy

Police in Ho Chi Minh City have arrested a Taiwanese and a Vietnamese member of a gang that allegedly makes phone calls impersonating authorities to trick people into giving them money.
Wu Tung I and Ho Nhat Khanh were arrested while another suspect, Vo Ngoc Bich Hien, was spared because she has a child less than three years old.
Police said they have received complaints from several targets, including a 77-year-old man who was called March 11 and told that he was involved in a major legal case that required him to transfer VND600 million (US$28,460) to four ATM accounts at a bank in the city to serve the investigation. He was promised refunds when the case closes.
Another woman was ordered to pay VND550 million on the same day to four other accounts.
The police source did not make it clear how much the victims submitted, but said the given accounts were emptied soon after that.
Wu said VND400 million was withdrawn from three of the accounts later that day.
Police said Hien and Wu, who lived together as husband and wife, bought the ATM cards from Khanh at VND1.2-2 million each and resold them to a group of Taiwanese at VND3 million and received a two percent share from the withdrawals.
Wu said he and the Taiwanese entered Vietnam in early 2010 and have since scammed people out of money using several different plots.
They at first called to tell the victims that they had won some promotions or giveaways but had to pay some fees first.
After that, they switched to the “investigation” scam.
Police in the city this year have arrested at least 17 people including two Taiwanese from four different gangs that have cheated 34 victims out of more than VND10 billion via fake phone calls.
Hsieh Ming Chi, a 41-year-old Taiwanese leader of a gang busted in late February, said they also recruited Vietnamese to work in Taiwan at salaries of VND8-10 million a month. The employees were first sent to Indonesia for one-month training for the fraud.
A city police officer said when one receives a call from someone introducing themselves as an investigator or government official, they need to ask the caller for their identity and name of the workplace, then call that place to confirm.

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