New shoe shine scam targets foreign tourists in Hanoi: report

Thanh Nien News

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An Australian tourist in Hanoi sits and waits after a man approached her on the street, took her sandals and attempted to repair them. Photo credit: Zing An Australian tourist in Hanoi sits and waits after a man approached her on the street, took her sandals and attempted to repair them. Photo credit: Zing

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A young Australian was walking on Hang Dao Street in Hanoi downtown when a local man suddenly appeared and pointed at her sandals. 
Before she could tell what was happening, he had already reached down and forcefully yanked the sandals off of her feet. 
He spent a few minutes giving the pair some stitches while she waited helplessly. 
Then he asked her to pay VND900,000 (US$40), which she said was even more than what she had paid for the pair. 
“I was shocked,” the woman who was only identified as Avy said in a video released this week by Zing News.
The news website suggested she was not the only victims of the new shoe shine and repair scam, in which a team of eight men waited around the popular Old Quarter and the Sword Lake, preying on foreign tourists.
A foreigner questions a man who took his footwear without his approval.
They approached foreigners, confused them and then took off their shoes. 
The men would then do some minor fixes and polishing before demanding very high service prices. 
Some were asked to pay VND1 million ($44) and they did, just to avoid trouble. 
A woman from Norway described the experience as “not happy” after having to spend VND500,000 on a shoe shine she did not want at all.
Nguyen Thi Thuy, who is in charge of cultural and social affairs at the city’s legislative office, said it will work with the tourism department to stop the scam.
Nguyen Thi An, a member of the office, said the city should track down those shoe shine men and publish their photos.
An said the shoe men should be charged criminally for fraud, adding that a cash fine will not be deterrent enough.
Locals in Hoan Kiem District, where the scam was reported, said they are all familiar with the shoe men.
They said the problem has been going on for a long time, with some men even stealing expensive shoes from foreign tourists. 
But Nguyen Ngoc Linh, chief police officer of Hang Buom Ward in the district, told Zing News that his unit has never encountered the men.
Linh also said that he has not received any reports from foreign tourists about the scam over the past two years.
"Without a victim, it's hard to deal with these men."
He said after the media report is verified, the men can face criminal charges. 

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