Hanoi teens impersonate Covid task force members in extortion racket

By Pham Du   August 5, 2021 | 03:46 am PT
Hanoi teens impersonate Covid task force members in extortion racket
Two teenagers who posed as militia members and extorted money from people during Hanoi's Covid-19 social distancing period are detained at a local police station, August 4, 2021. Photo courtesy of Hanoi police.
Hanoi's Hoan Kiem District detained six teenage boys Wednesday for posing as militia members and extorting money from people for violating social distancing measures.

The arrested are 17-year old Nguyen Duc Anh, Pham Viet Duc and Nguyen Dac Thang; and 15-year-old Nguyen Duc Quan, Tran Minh Sang and Nguyen Van Tuong Huy.

The teenagers allegedly targeted those who were not wearing masks or helmets, or violating other social distancing rules. Posing as militia members, they asked people to get off their vehicles and threatened to take them to police stations if they did not pay the money demanded.

At around 8 p.m. on August 2, they gathered at a house on Van Chuong Street, before "patrolling" streets in Dong Da, Hai Ba Trung, Ba Dinh, Hoan Kiem and Tay Ho districts.

At around 1:30 a.m. on August 3, they found a man in Hoan Kiem District riding a motorbike with a friend under the Long Bien Bridge, and chased him. They asked the man why he was out on the street and demanded money. The frightened resident gave them VND341,000 ($14.84), but Hoan Kiem District police reached the scene and caught the teens red handed.

Several batons, walkie-talkies and other items were seized from the teens.

The group confessed they had successfully extorted around VND2.8 million in total during similar attempts.

Hanoi has imposed a two-week social distancing order starting July 24, requiring people to stay home unless for essential purposes like purchasing food, medications and emergencies. Anyone going out has to provide appropriate documents proving they have a legitimate reason to do so.

In Vietnam, the militia is a force supporting the police in performing various duties including maintaining public order.

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