Scammers impersonate Catholic clergy to con worshippers in HCMC

By Huu Cong   March 27, 2018 | 09:10 pm PT
Scammers impersonate Catholic clergy to con worshippers in HCMC
Sagon Notre Dame Cathedral under restoration. The sign in front of the cathedral reads "under construction". Photo by VnExpress/Huu Cong
A woman claiming to represent a leading priest has been asking for donations for the restoration of Notre Dame Cathedral.

A group of scam artists have been impersonating a high-ranking member of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Ho Chi Minh City in an attempt to con people out of money, according to a statement issued by the church on March 27.

The group has been using the name of Father General Representative Inhaxio Ho Van Xuan to raise funds for restoration work at Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral, the notice said.

The archdiocese affirmed that apart from a letter issued by Archbishop Paul Bui Van Doc in 2015, no other donation requests have been made. Father Xuan has never sent any written letters or emails to anyone asking for donations, it added.

“A woman from this group of scammers is claiming to represent Father Ho Van Xuan and asking for money from dioceses and benefactors. Father Xuan has confirmed that he has not authorized this woman, nor anyone else, to represent him,” said the notice.

The archdiocese has advised bishops, priests and lay people to remain vigilant to avoid being scammed.

The restoration of Notre Dame Cathedral was approved by the government in late 2016, and is expected to take until 2019, according to Father Xuan. Construction will focus on fixing the 91-meter (298 feet) long roof, which has been heavily damaged by the weather.

Saigon Notre Dame Cathedral is one of the most popular tourist destinations in HCMC. The cathedral, built by French colonialists between 1863 and 1880, has two bell towers that stand at a height of 58 meters (190 feet).

Located in a tourist precinct that includes the historic Central Post Office in District 1, the cathedral is popular among foreign and local visitors who come to take photos of one of the oldest buildings in the city.

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