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Nearly 67,000 Vietnamese scammed of $88mn by pyramid company

Friday, April 14, 2017, 15:00 GMT+7

Nearly 67,000 people in Vietnam fell victim to a multi-level marketing company, losing over VND2 trillion (US$88.4 million) in the fraudulent business scheme.

Officers from the Ministry of Public Security on Thursday announced the result of an investigation into fraud and property appropriation charges against Lien Ket Viet, a company specializing in network marketing.

The Supreme People’s Procuracy has been asked to begin legal procedures against Le Xuan Giang, chairman of Lien Ket Viet management board, Le Van Tu, general director, Nguyen Thi Thuy, deputy general director, and four other accomplices.

According to the case file, Giang founded the company and organized several events to gain trust and a positive reputation from his clients and potential investors.

Giang also invited retired military officers and generals to his events, requesting they grant his company fake certificates stating that the firm is managed by Ministry of National Defense.

The man also claimed to be a military colonel to add substance to claims that the company’s products – physical therapy machines, ozone deodorizing devices, and a variety of dietary supplements – belonged to units under the defense ministry.

In late 2014, Giang asked an acquaintance in Ho Chi Minh City to forge ten merits he would later say were awarded by the prime minister to Lien Ket Viet and its leaders.

Several ceremonies were later held to publicize these ‘achievements’ and manipulate clients.

From March 2014 to November 2015, Giang and his accomplices opened 35 representative offices in 27 cities and provinces across Vietnam, scamming nearly 67,000 people into signing deals worth a combined VND2.1 trillion ($92.8 million).

Contracts with Lien Ket Viet stated that clients would first buy merchandise and later resell it to their own customers.

With each product sold, clients were promised 65 percent commission, much higher than the 40 percent commission regulated by the central government for multi-level marketing operations.

Aside from multiple tiers of commission, the victims were also guaranteed a monthly salary and bonus from company leaders.

Long-term members would also be eligible for participation in regular lucky drawings for attractive prizes such as apartments, cars, and expensive tours.

During the first phase of the operation, clients were paid the commission they were promised. The payments gradually diminished, however, before being completely cut off in November 2015.

By the time victims realized they the operation was a scam, they had already lost a huge amounts of money.

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