Over 100 HCMC residents claim defrauded by bank, insurance firm

By Hai Duyen, Quynh Trang   April 21, 2023 | 01:57 am PT
Over 100 HCMC residents claim defrauded by bank, insurance firm
A person fills in an accusation of SCB and Manulife of defrauding at the HCMC Police Department headquarters in District 1, HCMC. Photo by VnExpress/Hai Duyen
A total of 112 Ho Chi Minh City residents have gathered at a police office to accuse Saigon Commercial Bank and insurer Manulife of defrauding them.

They gathered at the HCMC Police Department in District 1 on Thursday to demand officials investigate SCB and Manulife for luring them into buying insurance policies masked as deposits offering high interest.

Nguyen Thi Ha, an office worker in District 10, said that when she went to an SBC office to withdraw a deposit of VND90 million ($3,831) in July 2020, a bank employee advised her to buy an investment product formed by a partnership between the bank and Manulife.

The employee told her that it was an investment asset that offered an interest of 8.7-15%, and included a life insurance policy.

The employee added that Ha could withdraw her initial investment and interest after five to six years.

Ha agreed and put in VND100 million. The following year she invested another VND100 million.

But at the end of 2022, she found she had not invest her money into an investment asset but bought a life insurance policy and could not withdraw the money.

"I already told the employee that I did not want to buy an insurance. When they gave me the contract I just thought that the insurance was included as a gift and therefore I signed," she said.

The bank employees only gave Ha the last page to sign and the rest of the contract was given only later. She only found out two years later that she would have to continue paying premiums for the next 48 years.

Ha also claimed that bank employees signed many other documents on her behalf, including a statement that said she had an income of VND50 million a month, even though she earned only VND10 million.

Tien, who sells clothes in Binh Thanh District, claimed that his mother was defrauded in a similar way.

Three years ago she was persuaded by a bank employee to put VND400 million into a "safe investment" package, he said. She only found out later that she actually paid for a life insurance policy.

"My mother stays at home but the documents stated her income at VND100 million a month. They also signed on behalf of her without her knowing," he said.

Other people said that they were tricked into thinking they put money into deposits but in fact they were paying for life insurance, and most of the money will be gone by the time they are allowed to withdraw it, which is five or six years later.

They often only received the insurance contract 10-15 days later after signing, and did not pay attention to that contract as they thought it was only a gift and not the main asset.

The health status of the customers was overlooked even though many were elderly.

Most of the money that the customers put in was used as insurance fee in the first year and transferred into an investment fund in the second year.

They were required to pay VND50-500 million a year after signing the contract, even though most of them were not capable of making such payments.

A representative of Manulife told VnExpress that the company was collaborating with authorities in looking at all the accusations.

"We will not tolerate any wrongdoing or fraud. If we detect these acts, we will immediately transfer them to the relevant authorities for punishment," the representative said.

SCB is working with Manulife in resolving the issues.

The HCMC Police Department has not made any official statement on the accusations.

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