Hanoi travel agency boss arrested for alleged scam

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The Hanoi police arrested Saturday the head of a US-based travel agency for allegedly cheating 73,000 people with offers of cheap luxury world tours that never materialized.

News website Dan Tri said Lam Phuc Hung, general director of Southeast Asian Diamond Holiday, has been taken in while board chairwoman Nguyen Thi Ai Dan is still at large.

It said Hung and Dan collected at least US$27.4 million from victims by telling them that they could stay for three to four days at luxury resorts around the world by paying a mere US$375.

They also allegedly defrauded people by offering cash bonuses of up to $15,000 for roping in more customers.

But neither the bonuses nor the foreign tour materialized, and when customers asked for at least a local tour for the money they had paid, the company refused.

Many then complained to the police, who carried out searches of Hung's house and office Thursday.

East Asian Diamond Holiday is an affiliate of the US-based Diamond Holiday Travel Corporation, which also has operations in Hong Kong.

Investigations continue.

Hung has been detained for four months pending charges of fraud to appropriate others' properties.

If convicted, the 53-year-old could face the death sentence, which is handed down for frauds involving more than VND4.5 billion ($217,000).

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