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Gas station scam accused receive prison sentences

Update: February, 22/2017 - 18:30
Authorities issue fines on a gas station that was found cheating the customers using the short-changing circuit trick. — VNA Photo
Viet Nam News

HÀ NỘI —  Sixteen accused in a cheating case involving a gas station at 436 Trần Khát Chân Street were given various levels of punishments, from administrative fines to prison sentences.

They were brought to court over collusion to rip off customers using tampered meters, an offence under the penal code.

The sanctions were handed out Tuesday by the People’s Court of Hà Nội after two-day trial.

The case was brought to light two years ago, when the Department of Economic Crimes under the municipal police, in collaboration with the city’s Market Management Department, inspected the gas station and found illegally integrated circuits fitted in all the six gas pumps installed there.

These circuits helped short-change the customers by restricting the flow of fuel into the customers’ vehicles, whereas the pump would display a higher quantity of fuel. Trần Thanh Trình, 36, and Nguyễn Mạnh Hà, 33, attendants at the station, had proposed the scam.

In April 2014, the two had sought approval from the manager of the station, Nguyễn Thị Hồng Hạnh, 50, to install the circuits and she agreed. The two then asked the other attendants at the pump to pay their share of VNĐ7 million ($306) each to purchase the circuits.

Hạnh also asked Ngô Tuấn Anh, 35, to upgrade the circuits, so that the attendants could activate them via remote controls.

Hồ Trọng Tuấn, head of the Market Department of Hà Nội Fuel and Petrol JSC, together with Ngô Đức Phong, former director of Thăng Long Petrol Equipment Co. Ltd., and Ngô Đức Tuấn, and Ngô Tuấn Anh, bought the circuits for the gas attendants being fully aware of the intention for the purchase.

From April 2014 to December 24, 2015, when the defrauding activities were uncovered, Hạnh and 11 attendants of the gas station made a profit of VNĐ1.57 billion ($68,800) by stealthily cutting back 5 per cent of the gas pumped into the vehicle of each customer.

The two "masterminds" of the crime, Trình and Hà, who also directly manipulated the gas meter, were given the heaviest sentence of 36 months in prison.

Hạnh, deemed to be the most liable in the defraud case, received the second-heaviest sentence – 30 months of imprisonment.

Six attendants of the station — Đỗ Thị Lương Hà, Trần Thị Minh Thu, Trương Quốc Cường, Nguyễn Công Trung, Lương Thị Vân, and Nguyễn Thị Vân — were given 24 months of probation, while another attendant, Bùi Thị Mai Linh, was given 20-month probation. Lê Đức Phong and Ngô Tuấn Anh received 18-month probation.

Hồ Trọng Tuấn was given a term of 24 months.

Nguyễn Bá Tùng and Hoàng Nghĩa Quân, two gas pump attendants, together with Ngô Đức Toàn, former director of Anh Phát Petrol Equipment Co. Ltd., were also fined VNĐ20-30 million ($876-1314).

Apart from the prison sentences, the court also demanded that the defendants pay back the illegal gains. — VNS


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