Vietnam police bust scam syndicate, arrest 3 Filipinos

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Police in Ho Chi Minh City on Wednesday arrested three Filipino men alleged to be members of a syndicate of scam artists that tend to target foreigners.

Oliver Due, 52, Tagapan Bartolome Gerbasa, 46, and Cavite Nestor Camesis, 44 were caught attempting to cheat a Japanese tourist, referred to as Naoki, out of US$3,000 on October 27, said the police division in charge of tackling social crimes (PC45).

PC45 said one day before that Gerbasa and Camesis had approached Naoki at September 23 Park in downtown District 1 and invited him to a house in Phu Nhuan District.

There the Japanese met Due, who claimed to be Camesis' older brother.

While Due was teaching Naoki gambling tricks, a Singaporean woman arrived at the house and asked them to play cards, police said.

Persuaded by Due to join the gambling, Naoki won the first four games, each worth $200.

When they were playing the next game, the woman suggested betting $5,000 and said it would be the last, according to PC45.

Because Naoki did not have enough money to place a $5,000 bet, they agreed to put all the cards along with the woman's money and Naoki's iPhone into a box, seal it, and resume the game the next day when the Japanese traveler would have enough money.

When the woman left, claiming that she had something else to do, Camesis and Gerbasa accompanied Naoki to an ATM where he withdrew $2,000 and gave it to Due for him to place in the box for security.

The next morning the Filipinos were busted as they were calling Naoki to recommence the game the next morning.

The Japanese was supposed to give them another $1,000 for his bet, Phap Luat TPHCM (HCMC Law) news website reported on Thursday.

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It said Due promised to lend Naoki another $2,000 and told him to prepare the rest on his own, adding that during the last game Due had given signals to Naoki, inferring that he was beating the woman, who was actually a member of Due's gang.

Captain Pham Thanh Viet, chief of PC45, was quoted as saying in the news report that the gang had some ten foreigners, mainly Filipinos who had entered Vietnam as tourists.

They stayed at hotels in District 1 and rented the house in Phu Nhuan District to cheat their victims, he said.

Due's scheme was to pay other Filipinos $100-200 to wander around places where foreign tourists often gather in HCMC and approach them, the official said, adding that they started investigating the gang since earlier this year.

The gang's victims were mainly Japanese, Europeans and Americans, an official with PC45 said.

Police are investigating.

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