Over 100 in central Vietnam fall prey to South Korean job scams

By Pham Linh, Le Tuyet   May 17, 2024 | 03:36 pm PT
Over 100 in central Vietnam fall prey to South Korean job scams
People who fall victim to a South Korea labor export scam gather to file reports in Quang Ngai Province, May 2024. Photo by VnExpress/Thach Thao
More than 100 people from a commune in Quang Ngai Province have been scammed of VND15-50 million (US$560-1,960) by a woman who promised to send them to South Korea for work, but then absconded.

Pham Thi Cong, chairwoman of Nghia An Commune, this week said that so far, more than 100 local residents had filed complaints against Tran Thi Thuy for taking money with promises of employment in South Korea that she did not fulfill.

Among those who paid, some were in dire financial situations and had borrowed money to pay Thuy, she said.

Last year, Nguyen Thi Chuc, 41, in Nghia An Commune, was among the first to fall prey to the scam.

Chuc's family once owned a large-scale fishing vessel, but they faced tough times due to depleted fish stocks, resulting in financial troubles and substantial debts for boat construction.

Burdened with debt, her family had to sell the boat, and their home was seized by the bank, forcing them to live with acquaintances.

Her husband switched to working on other people's boats, while Chuc took seasonal jobs at the port, earning an unstable income.

During this difficult time, she came across a live-stream video on social media by Tran Thi Gai, a sister of Thuy, who also lives in Nghia An, about labor recruitment for South Korea.

Gai promised a monthly salary of VND50 million and those who want to apply would "go under the E8 visa, work in agriculture for six months and require a local citizen to sponsor."

Chuc messaged Gai and was directed to meet Thuy to receive further guidance and make the payment.

Chuc did not have any money so had to borrow from various sources to pay, hoping that it would enable her and her husband to go to South Korea, where they could work hard to earn money.

"The money was paid in several installments, and after the first payment, I was quickly urged to make a second," Chuc said.

After handing over VND35 million, she received a foreign-language document from Thuy and was further urged to pay VND50 million for the visa, medical examination, and air tickets. After several transactions, Chuc had paid a total of VND100 million.

Similarly, Le Hoai Duc from the same commune gave Thuy VND50 million in two installments with the promise of support to work in South Korea's agricultural sector.

"After paying the money, I kept waiting but never saw any sign from Thuy to take us to South Korea as promised," Duc said. Concerned about being scammed, he asked Thuy for a refund but was rebuffed. Later, Thuy left Quang Ngai and blocked all contact.

Duc and Chuc filed a complaint with the police.

Nguyen Tan Doi, deputy director of the Department of Labor, Invalids, and Social Affairs of Quang Ngai, noted that the province does not have agreements for short-term labor export to South Korea under the E8 visa, and currently it only receives applicants for locals to work in South Korea long term.

The E8 visa is a category of seasonal labor visa designed for short-term agricultural work. To qualify, one needs a Korean citizen to sponsor them. The visa allows a maximum work duration of five months.

Nguyen Nhu Tuan, Deputy Head of Information and Propaganda, Management Department of Department of Overseas Labor of Vietnam, noted that Vietnamese labor in South Korea works under four programs.

For seasonal jobs, there are the E8 visa and the C4, which is valid for three months. Both involve work in agriculture and fisheries through direct cooperation between two localities of the two countries.

"Currently, there are only 14 Vietnamese provinces implementing the seasonal job program, and only residents from those provinces are allowed to go. For this program, no businesses in Vietnam are involved and the labor department is in charge of receiving and processing applications," he said.

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