Thousands fall victim to threats of HCMC debt collecting firm

By Quoc Thang   February 23, 2023 | 03:30 am PT
Thousands fall victim to threats of HCMC debt collecting firm
Police officers perform a search at a company in HCMC, which was disguised as a law firm to offer debt collection service. Photo courtesy of Tien Giang police
Thousands of people have been threatened and terrorized by a HCMC debt collection agency that masqueraded as a law firm, police said.

The victims, located in multiple localities such as the southern provinces of Long An, Binh Duong, Soc Trang, An Giang, Dong Thap, and Vinh Long, Can Tho, Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) and Hanoi, were threatened by the Phap Viet Law Firm based in HCMC’s Tan Binh District, Tien Giang police said Thursday.

Authorities have already arrested Tran Van Chau and Ho Quoc Hung, deputy directors of the firm, Nguyen Dinh Thanh, a division head of the company, and at least 13 others for "extortion" and "signs of terrorism."

Previously, Tien Giang police had received multiple reports regarding terrorism and extortion from people and organizations in the area. An investigation ensued, and on Feb. 14, dozens of armed police raided Phap Viet and detained 133 debt collectors. Multiple pieces of evidence were also seized, including PCs, laptops, mobile phones and documents.

Police said Chau, Hung and other suspects were members of a criminal organization that masqueraded as a law firm. This firm cooperated with certain banking and financial institutions under the guise of legal support.

Every month, the Phap Viet firm would take VND140,000-VND240,000 ($5.88-$10.08) for each customer profile that required debt collection. The firm would take 25-35% of the amount of money they managed to obtain from people as payment.

Their debt collecting schemes included making phone calls to people and organizations relating to debtors, even their loved ones. Then they would threaten to harm and kill the people closest to the debtors. They would send items like coffins and gas tanks be to debtors' homes as a form of harassment.

The debt collectors collected around VND1 trillion, the police said, without releaving an operation timeframe.

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