|Ma Thiếu Quân, 1973 (left), and Tô Văn Báo, 1993, were two Vietnamese nationals sentenced to prison in scam case pretending to be police to blackmail people. — Photo conglyxahoi.net.vn|
HÀ NỘI — The People’s Court of Hà Nội on Thursday imprisoned five con artists from the northern province of Lạng Sơn who helped a Chinese national impersonate a police officer to blackmail people.
Ma Thiếu Quân, born 1973, the group leader, was sentenced to 12 years in jail. While four others, Vương Quang Đằng (1990), Hoàng Thị Luyến (1979), Tô Văn Báo (1993), and Lộc Thị Loan (1986) received eight to six years imprisonment. The sentences were based on their roles in the case and how much the defendants profited from the scam.
Police have been unable to locate or identify the Chinese national.
At the end of June 2016, Ma Thiếu Quân and accomplices were contacted by a Chinese man who went by the name of ‘Lâm’ to use their Vietnamese IDs to open bank accounts in Lạng Sơn Province to receive money transfers.
Every time there was a transaction, Lâm would notify Quân’s group and the five members would withdraw the money. Each of them received about VNĐ 600,000 a day as compensation.
The money transferred into the five defendants’ Vietnamese accounts was all scammed from victims in Việt Nam.
Many victims have come forward to complain about the blackmail.
Early June 2016, a woman in Hà Nội, Nguyễn Thị Hiền Hạnh, in her complaint wrote she received a phone call from a person who claimed to be a staff from Việt Nam Posts and Telecommunications Group (VNPT) and said Hạnh hadn’t paid her phone bill.
At first, Hạnh refuted the claim but the ‘VNPT staff’ put her through to two other people who claimed to be a police lieutenant and Deputy Director of the Quảng Ninh Province People’s Procuracy. The two said Hạnh was involved in a criminal case.
Hạnh was then told to transfer VNĐ 839 million to a ‘police leader’ named Tô Văn Báo. Hạnh believed the fraudsters and transferred money without verifying their information.
After the money was transferred, Tô Văn Báo went to the bank to withdraw the money, exchange it into Chinese yuan and give it back to Lâm.
Another victim, Nguyễn Thị Nỷ, in HCM City also fell victim to the scammers.
The scammers claimed they were Hà Nội police investigating a criminal ring and they suspected her of having involvement with the ring
The fake police then asked for Nỷ’s to transfer all her money in 10 saving accounts (VNĐ 2.4 billion) to the Hà Nội’s police bank accounts to verify its origin.
If Nỷ refused to co-operate, the scammers threatened that she would be arrested for three months to serve investigations.
The scammers claimed that if her innocence was proven, the money would be returned within 24 hours.
Nỷ did not totally buy into the threats, but she still transferred about VNĐ 1.6 billion into the scammers’ accounts.
The five defendants were found to have aided ‘Lâm’ in swindling a total of VNĐ 5 billion.— VNS