HCMC man runs celebrity prostitution ring via Telegram groups

By Quoc Thang, Pham Du   January 31, 2024 | 06:46 pm PT
HCMC man runs celebrity prostitution ring via Telegram groups
Nguyen Huu Thai, alleged leader of a prostitution ring, at the point of his arrest in HCMC. Photo courtesy of the police
A man in Ho Chi Minh City has been accused of facilitating the prostitution of Vietnamese singers, supermodels, and actors via seven online groups totaling 66,000 members.

Nguyen Huu Thai, 25, was detained by HCMC police on Wednesday to be investigated for procurement.

After finishing a jail sentence for storing drugs in August 2022, Thai had masqueraded as a woman and joined 169 prostitution groups, with the aim of collecting prostitutes' data and persuading them to work for him.

Thai then bought certain groups on the messaging app Telegram and acted as their administrators. Whoever wanted to enter the groups had to pay fees.

In order to attract more people, Thai advertised on social media platforms using sensitive images. In the Telegram groups, he posted the images, names and other data on the prostitutes, along with the prices for prostitution.

Customers would also contact Thai so he could give them additional information on the prostitutes. The prices for prostitution range from VND5 million ($205) to hundreds of millions of dong.

Over more than a year, Thai had facilitated prostitution thousands of times. The police said the prostitutes included professional sex workers, students, models, singers, actors and online celebrities.

A police raid on Jan. 17 on a hotel in HCMC's District 1 revealed two pairs of men and women engaging in prostitution acts. Thai's was then busted. A search at his residence revealed a large amount of cash and bank notes. Around VND8.5 billion in his bank accounts has been frozen.

Authorities said Thai had illegally gained VND15 billion from his criminal acts.

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