Two Nigerian men were sentenced to 16 and 12 years in prison for swindling more than $130,000 from Vietnamese women they befriended online.
In the judgment delivered on Monday, July 16, Ihugba Augustine Chinonso, 32, was sentenced to 16 years in prison while Onu Chinonso Peter, 33, got 12 years for “appropriating property through swindling.”
The Ho Chi Minh City People’s Court has also sentenced six of their Vietnamese accomplices to between eight and 20 years in jail on the same charges and for “forging seals and documents of agencies or organizations.”
In addition to the jail sentences, the defendants were required to return all the swindled money to their victims.
According to the indictment, the Nigerian men set up fake accounts on social networks, befriended Vietnamese women and promised to send them cash and expensive gifts.
Their Vietnamese accomplices then pretended to be employees from delivery companies, customs officers or police officers and demanded that the women transfer delivery fees, customs fees or fines to their bank accounts.
After each successful scam, the Vietnamese accomplices got to keep 15-25 percent of the money, while the rest was sent to Chinonso.
The gang was busted after one of their victims, Chau, reported her case to the police in February 2016.
Chau said she was befriended by a foreigner claiming to be British on Facebook in January. The man promised to send her $100,000 in cash and other expensive gifts a month later.
In early February, a woman claiming to be from a delivery company called Chau, asking her to pay a $1,200 delivery fee and a VND80 million ($3,500) customs fee for a gift from overseas, which she paid. The woman then claimed she had not received the money and had Chau send her another VND112 million.
When a man claiming to be an officer from Hanoi’s economic police told her to pay a VND200 million fine as her package contained a large amount of cash, Chau became suspicious and approached the municipal police for help.
The police quickly identified and arrested the fake police officer and his wife.
Following further investigations, police uncovered the entire gang and concluded that in addition to Chau, they had also scammed another 10 women out of nearly VND3 billion ($130,000).
At the trial on Monday, most of the defendants admitted to their crimes. Chinonso, however, claimed his confession as obtained under torture. The court dismissed the claim.