Seven debt collecting companies in Ho Chi Minh City have recently been investigated and exposed for threatening and blackmailing debtors.
After Tham of Hanoi borrowed VND100 million ($4,223.87) on securities and financial company Mirae Asset’s app last year, but was unable to continue repayment after paying VND24 million, debt collectors that bought the debt from Mirae Asset started calling her and her family hundreds of times a day.
Seeking to collect a loan that had increased to VND149 million with interest, they said they would go to her children’s schools and kill them if she did not pay and also made similar calls to her friends and kids’ teachers.
To stop the harassment, Tham managed to pay VND84 million and asked to pay the rest in installments.
Another Mirae borrower, Hai, last year discovered that his debt had been bought by another company, which demanded immediate payment of VND175 million.
He saw photos of his family members splashed on social media with their faces pasted on pornographic images besides defamatory accusations.
They also called teachers and demanded that they should expel his child. They only stopped after Hai made full payment.
A worker in the country’s top prosecutor’s office also received threatening phone calls after her son borrowed from Mirae and failed to repay.
Her colleagues received similar calls, and her boss’ face was added to a pornography picture.
Police raid a the headquarters of a debt collecting firm in Ho Chi Minh City. Photo courtesy of the police
They are among many victims of a group of debt collectors in Ho Chi Minh City who have since been arrested.
The group was run by Tran Hong Tien, 49, who established seven companies purporting to be law offices, financial services providers and debt collection agencies but doing nothing more than debt collection.
They are situated on the fourth floor of an apartment building in District 11.
Their 120 employees collected debts acquired from lenders such as Mirae Asset and others. They pay 12-15% of a debt to buy it from the lenders.
Their main method was to repeatedly call debtors and their families and friends as a psychological ploy until they paid up.
Each employee was given information about around 500 debtors every month and paid a minimum of 0.3% commission for successfully collecting a debt. But they would be fired if they fail to meet their collection target for two months in a row.
After three months of investigation, the police raided the companies’ offices on Feb. 20 and seized nearly VND600 million in cash and froze four bank accounts with a total of over VND2 billion.
Data from their computers showed that since July 2018 they had bought debts worth over VND3.5 trillion owed by 330,000 and collected nearly VND600 billion.
Police have arrested 31 individuals and are expanding their investigations.
They have also found at least 15 other companies that show signs of illegal debt collecting activities.
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