A Vietnamese woman has lost a total of VND740 million (US$33,600) in a Facebook swindling case in which she was told she would be the recipient of a gift, including a package and a cash amount of $160,000, from abroad. Police in the southern province of Dong Nai said that Le Thi Thanh H., had been sent a “friend request” on Facebook from a person named Stan Billy in the UK.
After chatting with H., Billy said he had sent a gift package together with $40,000 cash to her.
Billy asked H. to visit a website which he provided and use a given password to log in to follow the process to receive the gift. On September 22, 2014, H. received a phone call from Malaysia saying that the package intended for her was being kept by Malaysian customs officers because it contained money, which was considered unlawful. The caller asked her to pay a fine of $1,000 to get the package released by the customs by following the instructions for her case on the said website. Upon visiting the site, H. read a notice: “Your goods have been seized by Malaysian customs as it contained money. You are required to pay a fine of $1,000 to account no. 7307…. at the Binh Minh branch of Agribank in Vinh Long Province. The account holder is Le Van Quan.” H. then credited VND22 million (equivalent to $1,000 at that time) to that account, but a day later, she received another phone call from Malaysia asking her to pay $3,200 as the insurance fee for the package. Again, H. transferred VND68 million ($3,200) to Quan’s account.
Several days later, she paid VND95.2 million to the same account after a person, also from Malaysia, requested her to pay an “anti-money laundering fee” of $4,500.
After that she received a text message saying the gift had already arrived in Vietnam. H. was then informed by Billy that the real amount of cash she would receive was as much as $160,000, not $40,000 as initially announced, but for it, she had to pay a fee of $16,000 for “the cash sent not in due form." She, once again, transferred the $16,000 fee to Quan’s account. On October 10, 2014, H. was asked by a strange woman on the phone to pay a fine of $10,100 to an account held by Le Thi Be because British customs officers were verifying the amount of $160,000. H. then transferred VND214 million ($10,100) to Be’s account at the VP Bank’s branch in the southern Vietnamese city of Can Tho. On October 20, 2014, H. was asked by the same strange woman to pay an international transport charge of $2,570 to Be’s account before receiving the gift. At that time, H. realized that she had been cheated and reported the case to police, saying that she had transferred nearly VND740 million to the accounts of Quan and Be. Quan told police that Be is his daughter and that she had previously asked him to open a Visa card in his name and gave her the card when she was working in Malaysia. H. had transferred money to this Visa card account. Quan said he does not know where Be is now living or working. Police said that during their investigation into the case, they have detected at least five other people who were cheated with tricks similar to what H. fell victim to.