Vietnam huckster gets life for $101M fraud

By Hai Duyen, Dinh Van   December 29, 2022 | 06:52 am PT
Vietnam huckster gets life for $101M fraud
Nguyen Thai Luyen stands before the HCMC People's Court, December 29, 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Dinh Van
A Saigon real estate con man was sentenced to life in prison Thursday after swindling around VND2.4 trillion ($101.6 million) from 4,560 people.

Nguyen Thai Luyen, 36, president of Alibaba, had conned thousands of unwitting Vietnamese citizens into buying fake real estate properties, the HCMC People’s Court said.

Vo Thi Thanh Mai, Luyen’s wife, received 20 years in jail for the same charge and 12 years for money laundering. Her sentence, totaling at least 30 years in prison, is the maximum term for non-life imprisonment in Vietnam.

And the buck did not stop there.

Some 21 accomplices who helped Luyen and Mai con everyday people out of their life savings received jail sentences between 10-27 years. One of the fraudster-ring members was handed only a suspended sentence (house arrest plus time served) due to ongoing cancer treatment.

In May 2016, Luyen founded the Alibaba real estate company with an authorized capital at VND1 billion. Two years later, the company’s authorized capital had increased to VND1.6 trillion.

But as it turns out, the high numbers were on paper only.

As chairman of the company’s management board, Luyen created a business system with non-existent real estate projects. He enlisted the help of his relatives and his employees to create legal entities and companies, acting as the main investors of 58 non-existent real estate projects in Dong Nai, Ba Ria-Vung Tau and Binh Duong. They illegally drew up and separated land plots, before advertising and selling them to thousands of people.

They managed to trick VND2.4 trillion out of 4,560 people, prosecutors said. Luyen was the mastermind of the crime, which not only swindled money from the people, but also ruined the planning of infrastructures in localities, they added.

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