A woman from Lam Dong Province in Vietnam’s Central Highlands has been arrested for tricking people into making advanced payments on fake black bronze antiques.
Police officers in the province have detained Nguyen Thi Thua Van, 51, for fraud and appropriation of property and will hold her in custody for four months to carry out their investigation.
Van and her gang members have been faking the online sale of hepatizon antiquities and tricking buyers into making upfront payments.
Black bronze, or hepatizon, is an alloy of copper that contains the addition of a small proportion of gold and silver, being the second most valuable among the known types of bronze or brass in classical antiquity.
Officers opened the case in November last year upon receiving reports from Phung Ba Truc, residing in District 1, Ho Chi Minh City, and Nguyen Van Lanh from Binh Thanh District, also in ho Chi Minh City.
The two victims accused Van of appropriating a total of VND655 million (US$28,952) from them via her scam.
Preliminary investigations reveal that Van’s accomplices included Tran Nhut, 71, hailing from the south-central province of Khanh Hoa, and Can Van Tinh, 44, who also lives in Lam Dong.
The incenses burner Van used to scam her victims. Photo: Tuoi Tre
According to the case file, the scammer told Truc that she owned an incense burner made off black bronze weighing 3.6 kilograms. A month later, the man agreed to buy the antique for $10 million per kilogram, believing that he could resell it at a higher price later on.
Van then bought two burners made from a type of cheap black metal and took some photos to give Truc as evidence, before the buyer paid her an upfront sum of VND300 million ($13,260).
Using a similar scheme, the suspect had previously tricked Lanh into paying her VND355 million ($15,691) upfront in May 2011.
After arresting Van, an officer carried out a search on her home and confiscated four metallic incense burners and some other relevant items.
The Lam Dong Department of Police has called on people who may have fallen victim to the scam to contact them and get help with their cases.