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Fraudulent Vietnamese travel firm promises to pay back tourists

The director of a tour operator based in Ho Chi Minh City that had reportedly run away with bookings from more than 100 tourists asserted Thursday that the company will come back and refund its customers in full.

The director of a tour operator based in Ho Chi Minh City that had reportedly run away with bookings from more than 100 tourists asserted Thursday that the company will come back and refund its customers in full.
The director of a tour operator based in Ho Chi Minh City that had reportedly run away with bookings from more than 100 tourists asserted Thursday that the company will come back and refund its customers in full.

Vo Anh Kiet, director of the Anh Kiet Co. headquartered in District 4, yesterday contacted VnExpress newspaper at the daily’s office to explain what really happened at his company after the newspaper reported its disappearance and complaints from the dupedholidaymakers the same day.

More than 100 people who booked packages to Thailand and Singapore with Anh Kiet Co. had the tours canceled at the last minute earlier this week, while they could not contact any representatives of the travel firm because they all left the office on Tuesday.

One of the customers paid as much as VND26 million (US$1,224) to book packages for the whole family, while more than VND1 billion ($47,068) of bookings was done via the www.yesgo.vn website, a dealership of Anh Kiet Co.

While no one could contact Kiet at the time of the incident, the director said it was because he was leading a tour to Thailand from July 26.

“So partners could not reach me at the time, which resulted in worries and concerns about my company,” he said.

“The company will be reopened at its old headquarters to refund customers, as well as allow them to change their travel itineraries should they wish to do so.”

The director also admitted that his company has yet to obtain the license to offer outbound tour packages. In late 2013 the company was fined VND35 million ($1,647) by the HCMC Department of Culture, Sports, and Tourism for offering international tour services without a license, and Kiet also confessed that he has not paid the fine yet.

When the duped tourists came to the company’s office on Tuesday, they found nothing but an empty room with leaflets and brochures scattered on the floor.

Kiet said the company was abruptly shut down and his employees had to flee because “they were too scared and did not know how to deal with the angered customers.”

The director committed himself to “fulfilling my responsibility with the customers and relevant partners,” adding that he is willing to receive penalties from regulatory agencies.

In the meantime, District 4 police said they are investigating the case as there is a sign of fraud.

As of the end of Thursday, seven tourists and partners of Anh Kiet Co. have filed their complaints to police, saying they have been swindled by the travel firm, officers said.