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46 Vietnamese abandoned in Thailand in Japanese scam

Wednesday, March 25, 2015, 17:45 GMT+7
46 Vietnamese abandoned in Thailand in Japanese scam
The Thai province of Pathum Thani is seen in this screenshot taken from Google Maps.

The Vietnamese Embassy in Thailand is working with local authorities to help 46 Vietnamese who have been abandoned there by a Japanese man after he cheated them out of money in a job-related con.   One of these victims is Nghiem Thi Thuy, a woman from the northern province of Hai Duong, who told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper that she was among the 46 Vietnamese people sent to Thailand by Sato Hiroaki, a Japanese man who is director of STO, a firm based in Japan. The first workers were sent to Thailand on December 11, 2014 and the last on March 8, 2015, the woman said.  These 46 people signed contracts with Hiroaki and each of them paid him US$4,500 after the Japanese promised to find them jobs for a monthly salary of $1,000 in Thailand. Thuy said she accidentally got acquainted with Hiroaki when he did business in Vietnam. She later worked for a company owned Hiroaki in Laos. The Japanese then told Thuy that five companies in Thailand needed to recruit unskilled Vietnamese workers. He added that after working there for a period, these workers would either stay or be sent to Japan for work.  Believing in the man, Thuy phoned her friends and relatives in Vietnam, asking them to go to Thailand for work following Hiroaki’s arrangement. But all these 46 have been abandoned in rented rooms in an area in Pathum Thani Province arranged by the man since arriving in Thailand. Recently, the owner of the rooms said the lease term would expire soon and these Vietnamese people would have to leave if no payment was made for a renewal. Meanwhile, many of them have no money left to pay for the rent as well as for their daily needs, according to Radio the Voice of Vietnam (VOV). After failing to contact Hiroaki many times, Thuy and the other people began to realize that they had been duped by the Japanese man. So they lodged an appeal to the Vietnamese Embassy in Thailand for help. After receiving the appeal, the embassy has coordinated with competent Thai agencies to support them and search for the swindler, according to VOV. Tran Manh Hung, the embassy’s first secretary in charge of protecting Vietnamese citizens, said he had officially requested that Thai authorities investigate the case, arrest the con artist, and arrange forces to protect the Vietnamese people in their rented rooms, VOV reported.   As Hiroaki is a Japanese citizen, the Thai authorities are very careful in dealing with the case and they could serve a detention warrant on the man only when they have already obtained sufficient evidence, Hung was quoted by VOV as saying.  On March 23, the Thai authorities deployed police officers to guard the area where the 46 Vietnamese people are staying, VOV said.   Major General Montree Yimyam, director of the Pathum Thani Province Police, told VOV that this is a trans-national scam and that local police officers will announce the results of their probe when it is completed. Meanwhile, Thuy told Tuoi Tre that the embassy’s officials have visited the victims in Pathum Thani and given them support.

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