I putting this article here to warn our web visitors so they can be aware of such scam going on, particularly if you are travel to Vietnam alone and is new in Saigon. I have personally witnessed one such event: The place I’m staying is also a mini guesthouse in the Pham Ngu Lao Street area and one of the guest recently got cheated of around US$10,000 through one of these tactic described below.
Adam: There is a well-organized gang of con artists, most if not all are from the Philippines, operating in District 1, Saigon. It began with probably less than a dozen folks a year ago, but now there are so many I’m not sure I could count. There is at least 1 cell of people (3-5 members in a cell) working on every city block around Pham Ngo Lao Street, Le Loi and Dong Khoi.
The point of the scam is to walk up to strangers, befriend them, and convince them to go off with these people alone for coffee or lunch, or to meet a relative who “just happens” to be a student studying in the victims country, and needs some “advice”. The victims I have heard from tell me the gang members eventually pressure them to play a card game, eventually losing all their money. There is some reason for concern that tourists could be outright robbed or physically harmed by the gang under the right circumstances.
This fellow approached me with the same old story–”Hi, how are you, where you from–Oh, I have a daughter going to school there, can you come with me to meet her…” Of course if you were to go with them, the scenario changes and they try to dupe you in a con. There is also a danger of being mugged and robbed outright, of course. This fellow clearly did not like being photographed. As it turned out, there were three other people in his cell group there. After I took a photo he assaulted me. I asked the security guard there for assistance but he refused to help. This all took place in front of the Le Lai Hotel at 76 Le Lai Street, District 1.
This man and woman were also in the cell group. They left right away.
This woman was part of the cell group. When I was assaulted she hopped up to suggest to the man that they should go.
Here I was, at the bus stop on Ly Tu Trong and Nam Ky Khoi Nghia. There was a very beautiful striped squirrel on the tree (an unusual sight in Saigon) that I was trying to photograph, when up pops this ass. Another con man trying to get me to go with him somewhere so he could con me.
Finally the jerk left me alone and joined one of the other guys in his cell group. There are normally at least 3 people per group, but I didn’t spot the other person.
Here’s a group of 3 on Phan Ngu Lao, heading toward the De Tham area.
I reported these two fellows (above) earlier. I’ve recently seen the old man above, sitting along Pham Ngu Lao Street, waiting for tourists to come by. The younger bald guy (here pictured with a cap), is a short but hefty guy. I found him eating breakfast this morning in one of the alleys around Pham Ngu Lao Street, and this afternoon stalking tourists in front of the Rex Hotel.
This older man (above) is a long-time con artists, but this is the first time he appears pictured in this blog. He is a front-man, approaching tourists on Pham Ngu Lao Street and asking them questions to make sure they are suitable for the con (that they are alone, new in town, and friendly to a con) Then he calls other people in his cell to notify them of the “mark”-ed tourist that is coming their way.
Vietnam720: Please help forward this to your friends who are visiting Vietnam. Do note that although this article is titled ‘Scam in Saigon Vietnam’, Adam mentioned in his blog that he encountered such similar scam in Nha Trang also. But while this article is here to warn people of such scam in Saigon Vietnam, I must say that Vietnam is still generally a safe country to visit. As long as you keep your wits above you, you should be able to enjoy your Vietnam travel.