Foreign tourists in Hanoi received fake money from taxi driver: police

By Vy An   July 20, 2018 | 10:50 pm PT
Initial media reports of two foreigners being cheated with joss paper earlier this week contained several errors, Hanoi authorities say.

The two foreigners who were cheated with joss paper as change in the capital city this week were Spanish, not French, and the fake money came from a taxi driver, not a cyclo driver as earlier reported, police said on Saturday.

Miguel Angel Fernandez Lamelas and his girlfriend arrived in Hanoi on July 15.

The day after, the couple took a ride with Tran Van Phong, 29, from a restautant to their hotel in Long Bien District at around 7 p.m. for VND37,000 ($1.62). They gave Phong a VND500,000 ($21.84) note and he returned them with VND900,000 in joss paper, which is usually burnt as offerings for deceased relatives in Vietnam, investigation found.

The tourists said they hadn’t noticed how much the change was because it was dark.

They said it was the first time they were visiting the country, so they were not able to distinguish between the ‘real’ paper money and joss paper. 

It was only a day later, when they used the money to pay Huu Phuc, another taxi driver, that they realized they’d been cheated and given joss paper. 

Phuc shared the tourists’ story on his Facebook page, prompting tourism officials and police officers to step in.  

One of two Spanish tourists who were allegedly given VND900,000 ($39) in joss paper as change said the cyclo driver is not the one whod given him the joss papers.. Photo  taken from a video clip posted by Huu Phuc 

Miguel Angel Fernandez Lamelas, a Spanish tourist,  was allegedly given VND900,000 ($39) in joss paper as change in Hanoi. Images taken from a Facebook video by Huu Phuc

Police are working on the case. They are also investigating the tourists' report that they were charged VND1.5 million for a one-hour cyclo ride in Hanoi on Monday. It is said that the normal rate ranges between VND100,000 and VND300,000 per person per hour.

Earlier media reports said the cyclo driver, Nguyen Van Chinh, had given them the joss paper money.

But Lamelas said Chinh simply used sign language to demand three VND500,000 note and did not give them any change.

Hanoi welcomed more than three million foreign visitors in the first half of this year, up 26 percent from a year ago.

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