Four jailed for trading over $500,000 counterfeit dollar bills at bank

By Hai Duyen   January 25, 2024 | 11:32 pm PT
Four jailed for trading over $500,000 counterfeit dollar bills at bank
Néang Sóc Rane (R) and her three accomplices in a fake money scam, at a court in HCMC, Jan. 25, 2024. Photo by VnExpress/Hai Duyen
A court in HCMC handed jail terms to four people bringing US$538,000 in counterfeit money to a bank to exchange, successfully swapping around half of it for Vietnamese notes.

Pham Hung Tuan, 34, Néang Sóc Rane, 37, a Khmer woman, Do Van Trung, 47, and Nguyen Bao Duy, 28, were tried at the Ho Chi Minh City People's Court on Thursday for "storing, transporting and circulating fake money."

All four defendants admitted their actions.

Rane, the mastermind of the case, said she met Thy, a Cambodian national of unknown background, in July 2021 when Thy visited Vietnam for medical treatment.

Thy proposed to supply counterfeit dollar bills for Rane to circulate in Vietnam and introduced him to Do Van Trung for transactions and handling counterfeit money.

When Rane met Trung, she claimed to have bills from 2006 but they are old currency and no longer in circulation, and offered a commission for anyone who could exchange them.

Trung then introduced Rane to Pham Hung Tuan for the transaction. Rane contacted Tuan and sold him counterfeit bills twice.

Specifically, on Aug. 9, 2021, Rane gave Tuan $258,000 in counterfeit bills.

Tuan and Duy then brought the money to a branch of Vietinbank in Tan Binh District to sell but the bank rejected the notes as they were too old.

Tuan then gave all the money to Duy, agreeing to keep 35% of the proceeds and letting Duy have the remaining 65%.

Duy asked his uncle, Kieu Ba Son, to exchange the money.

Son then successfully exchanged $250,000 for over VND5.7 billion, according to market price for real U.S. dollars, at a Vietinbank office in District 5. The bank returned the remaining $8,000 as it did not have enough Vietnamese notes at the time.

Duy transferred nearly VND2 billion to Tua and kept VND3.7 billion as agreed.

After receiving the fake USD sale proceeds from Duy, Tuan gave Rane VND1.6 billion, paid Trung VND90 million, and kept the rest. Trung also received an additional VND95 million from Rane.

Two days later, the bank discovered that the dollar bills had many duplicate serial numbers or faded so it requested Son to return all the exchanged money or give them new bills.

Son and Duy then tried to contact Tuan, but they could not reach him, and as the result, the uncle and nephew had to spend their own money to repay the entire VND5.7 billion to the bank.

On Aug. 24, 2021, through Trung, Tuan received another $280,000 in old fake notes from Rane.

The next day, Tuan tried to exchange this counterfeit money at a bank in Tan Binh District but was rejected by the bank.

As Tuan stepped out of the bank, police of a Covid-19 prevention task force stopped him for inspection as he showed suspicious signs.

They caught him carrying a bag of counterfeit money.

From Tuan, the police searched Rane's residence in District 7 later that day, and seized a bundle of 88 bills, with each worth $100 and other evidence related to counterfeit money.

The court sentenced Rane to 20 years in prison, Tuan 17 years, Trung 14 and Duy 10.

Investigators have not yet located Thy.

Kieu Ba Son and other related individuals were unaware that the foreign currency they were asked to sell was counterfeit, so were not prosecuted.

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