HCMC men jailed for transporting $12M in fake dollar bills

By Hai Duyen   March 1, 2024 | 12:24 am PT
HCMC men jailed for transporting $12M in fake dollar bills
Black stacks of counterfeit bills. Photo courtesy of HCMC Customs
The HCMC People's Court on Thursday sentenced two men to jail after transporting 12 stacks of fake U.S. dollar bills, supposedly worth $12 million.

Nguyen Khac Viet, 48, and Tran Cam Tu, 52, were sentenced to 16 and 17 years in prison respectively for transporting counterfeit money.

The indictment stated that in September 2021, Viet bought 12 black-colored stacks of U.S. dollars, with each stack containing 100 "$100" bills, from a man named Hung in a café in District 5 for VND30 million ($1,232).

Hung promised to give Viet chemical to wash away the blackness. Viet tried to contact Hung for the chemical, but failed. When Viet got home, he tried to wash the black away but failed, so he stashed them away.

About a month later, when Tu came to Viet's house, Viet showed him the stacks of fake dollars and asked him for a place to sell them. The dollars had no serial number, so Tu realized they were fakes, and said he did not know anyone who would buy them.

In September 2022, Tu told Viet that someone named Kim Hen from Thailand wanted to buy fake U.S. dollar bills at high prices, so he told Viet to bring the 12 stacks of money to Thailand to sell them, and the profit would be split between them.

On Sept. 15, 2022, Tu called Kim Hen and asked to meet her at Bangkok airport. He and Viet put the fake money into two suitcases and made plans to go to Thailand.

However, customs officers at the Tan Son Nhat Airport in HCMC became suspicious and discovered 10,518 black $100 bills. The officers initially thought the money was real, but later realized it was fake following analysis.

The case was brought to trial in November 2023, but authorities needed to determine whether the stacks of black money were indeed counterfeit bills or simply paper, as well as verifying the identity of the woman named Kim Hen.

The forensic police unit of HCMC later confirmed the stacks of black money were counterfeit bills. Authorities also discovered that the woman named Kim Hen was in Singapore, not Thailand, and has sent a request to local authorities to assist with the investigation.

At the trial on Thursday, the two men admitted to having tried to sell the counterfeit bills for profit, but also claimed that they were mere paper as they did not have serial numbers on them.

Prosecutors however said the men knew the stacks of money were counterfeit bills, and tried to sell them for profit.

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