Four Chinese tourists were arrested on Sunday in Ho Chi Minh City after they were caught red-handed appropriating property from a Vietnamese woman who had been tricked into believing the arrestees were faith healers.
Police officers in District 5 announced on Sunday evening that it had made an emergency arrest of four Chinese nationals, namely Guan Zao, 46, Ke Qinying, 52, Xie Yuqiong, 44, and Zhang Huamei, 47.
The suspects were apprehended on suspicion of swindling.
According to initial police files, the four flew to Vietnam last Sunday when they met an unidentified Vietnamese man named Chau at an airport in Guangdong, China.
Chau allegedly introduced himself to the group and invited them to join him in a scam, promising to cover all of their expenses during their stay in Vietnam.
After the Chinese tourists agreed to take part, Chau assigned each of the four a role in the scam, which aimed to trick gullible victims into believing they could cure illnesses with magic.
On Saturday morning, the group gathered at the Phung Hung market in District 5 to look for ‘prey.’
After deciding on a 62-year-old female named N., Zhang Huamei approach the woman and asked whether she knew a good healer, to which the victim replied no but said she was very sick herself.
It was then that Xie Yuqiong and Ke Qinying pretended to be passers-by who had overheard the conversation and told N. about a relative of theirs who could cure any illness with magic.
The two added that payments were not required, though the woman should bring along her assets so that the healer could work his magic on them.
Believing in the scam, N. made an appointment to meet with the three of them at the park in front of Thuan Kieu Plaza in District 5 before heading home to fetch her assets.
What N. did not know was that she was being followed home by Guan Zao, the remaining member of the group, who kept a careful watch over the victim’s movements.
Around thirty minutes later, N. brought over VND5 million (US$225) in cash, what appears to be three SJC gold bars, and a gold bracelet weighing around 22 grams to the rendezvous.
At the meeting, Zhang Huamei took out a black plastic bag with a bottle of water inside, which the scammers said was holy water, and told N. to put all her assets into the bag.
When N. asked to hold the bag herself, Zhang Huamei handed her another black plastic bag in which there was nothing but some papers, a rock, and a bottle of water.
After walking for a while, the three told N. that the blessing had been done, and she went home with the swapped plastic bag.
The four Chinese tourists were caught shortly after by District 5 police officers, who had been following them all along and witnessed their entire scam.
Upon discovering that she had been tricked, N. also reported the incident to the police, who are still conducting further investigations into the matter.