Monday , July 22 2024

Hanoi man tricked into spending $68,000 on ‘magic’ stones


A southern con gang has scammed a Hanoi man by palming off on him two stones it claimed could “destroy metal” for VND1.66 billion (US$68,000).

The Dong Nai police said Sunday they have arrested two members of the gang, Vo Quang Truc, 58, and Nguyen Thi Tuyet Lan, 50, for “committing fraud to appropriate property.”

Truc lives in HCMC and Lan in Can Tho City.

According to the police, Lan got in touch with a Hanoi man named Tran and managed to convince him there were stones that “destroy metal.”

In November last year she took him to meet Truc in an apartment in Binh Duong Province to see the stones.

The two stones claimed to have the ability to destroy metal. Photo by VnExpress/Thai Ha

The two stones claimed to have the ability to “destroy metal.” Photo by VnExpress/Thai Ha

Truc introduced Tran to two women he said were his mother and younger sister.

He told the Hanoi man the stones he had were magical and also “family treasures” and cost VND306 billion on the market.

He asked Tran to find buyers for them and offered a commission of 4%, or VND12 billion.

The Hanoi man agreed.

But Truc and his family said he had to pay a deposit first.

After intense negotiations, they agreed to a deposit of VND2.1 billion and signed a contract. If Tran failed to sell the stones, he was to get 80% of his deposit back.

Lan said she would contribute VND440 million, meaning Tran would only have to pay the remaining VND1.66 billion.

On Dec. 25 last year Tran and his wife traveled from Hanoi to Binh Duong near HCMC and paid Truc the deposit.

Truc hired a car to transport the couple and the two stones to Hanoi and sent a woman named Hanh, whom he claimed was his sister, to carry them. The couple evidently did not smell a rat even at this.

At a point halfway along the trip, Hanh said she had to use the restroom and got off the car, and never returned.

After a while Tran and his wife tried to contact her, but were unable to reach her. They could not contact Truc or Lan either, and that was when they realized it was all a con.

They returned to Dong Nai and went straight to the police and filed a complaint.

Vo Quang Truc at a police station in Dong Nai Province, January 7, 2024. Photo by VnExpress/Thai Ha

Vo Quang Truc at a police station in Dong Nai Province, Jan. 7, 2024. Photo by VnExpress/Thai Ha

After starting to investigate, they said Truc had asked the two women to pretend to be his mother and sister.

Lan had made counterfeit ID cards for her and Truc and rented several apartments to swindle people in a similar manner.

Truc had placed real iron between the stones before quickly switching it with a gypsum piece that he easily bent to demonstrate their “magic” properties to Tran.

The police are continuing their investigation into the scam, and have identified 20 suspects.

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