Conman gets life for posing as cop, swindling $1.55M

By Hai Duyen   January 10, 2024 | 06:21 pm PT
Conman gets life for posing as cop, swindling $1.55M
Nguyen Ngoc Thien at a court in HCMC, Jan. 9, 2024. Photo by VnExpress/Hai Duyen
A HCMC court has sentenced a man to life imprisonment for impersonating a police officer to swindle 20 people out of VND38 billion (US$1.55 million)

Nguyen Ngoc Thien, 43, was found guilty of "fraudulent appropriation of assets," the court announced Tuesday.

He had posed as a deputy inspector at the Ministry of Public Security and claimed he could buy luxury cars like Lexus and villas at low prices as part of a scheme to defraud people.

In 2009 he was jailed for eight years by the same court for the same crime after he impersonated a HCMC police special force officer and embezzled over VND80 million.

After completing the sentence and getting out of jail, Thien picked up where he had left off, again telling people he was a police officer.

In 2018 a woman named Do Hoang My Linh asked him to help her cousin get back money from a company providing immigration services that refused a refund.

Thien posed as Long, an officer, and threatened the company's director with legal consequences. A few days later Linh's cousin received the refund.

After being invited to a thank-you dinner by Linh's family, Thien introduced himself as a deputy inspector in the Ministry of Public Security and claimed to have access to 12 luxury cars at low prices.

By now Linh completely trusted him and gave him VND2.9 billion for two Lexus LX570s.

She then introduced him to others, who gave him more than VND10 billion in all for buying cars.

Thien then began to trot out excuses about delays in delivery saying he had to pay "several departments."

He rented two cars and gave them to Linh, and avoided the rest.

When the others asked him insistently, Linh used her own money to return VND2.6 billion to two buyers.

During this time Thien deceived her with another story: He said he had a plot of land in Dong Nai he had mortgaged to a bank.

He said if Linh gave him VND400 million he would pay off the mortgage and transfer the ownership to her.

He also said he had the influence to buy apartments and villas at reduced prices.

Linh continued to believe everything he said.

She gave him VND3.2 billion for the land plot and for a deposit to buy 31 apartments and a villa.

It gradually began to sink in that he was a conman, and she finally went to the police.

Meanwhile, Thien deceived another woman, Phuong, living in Ba Ria – Vung Tau Province that neighbors HCMC.

She was fighting for ownership of a house in HCMC’s District 3.

Thien claimed to be an officer in the Ministry of Public Security, and promised a swift resolution of her dispute if she paid VND2.5 billion.

He also promised to get her a house in HCMC's Phu Nhuan District at a discounted price thanks to his relationships.

Phuong and a friend gave him a total of VND10 billion.

She too eventually realized she had been defrauded and complained to the police.

Investigators said Thien had deceived nearly 20 people and relieved them of over VND38 billion, but had spent the money and had no means to repay.

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