Members of a phone scam gang at a trial in HCMC, November 19, 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Duong Trang.
Three Taiwanese men posing as police officers were among 10 phone scammers jailed in HCMC for swindling VND10 billion ($430,944) out of their Vietnamese victims.
Pan Chu Lin, 23, identified as the gang leader was sentenced to 15 years in prison while accomplices Chiu Po Sung, 23, received a jail term of 13 years, and Hou Po Ta, 27, got 10 years.
The seven Vietnamese citizens who assisted the Taiwanese trio, who masqueraded as police officials on the phone, were sentenced to between 5-12 years in prison.
All were charged with fraudulently appropriating property, the court ruled Thursday.
According to the indictment, the 13-member gang sourced the personal info of mainly elderly Vietnamese bank account holders online. They then proceeded to telephonically accuse their victims of criminal or money laundering activities, threatening arrest in the absence of a deposit to “assist with the investigation.”
The gang’s bank accounts were all emptied on receipt of the stolen cash.
The defendants all admitted to their crime in court, some claiming to have been hired simply to withdraw cash on behalf of the Taiwanese ringleaders.
Phone scams targeting Vietnamese have been common in recent years, with HCMC police in particular warning of groups of foreigners, mainly Chinese and Taiwanese colluding with locals in the pursuit of such fraudulent activity.