Editor’s note: Paul Threlfall gives another account of what appears to be a ring of fraudulent taxi drivers targeting foreign tourists in downtown Ho Chi Minh City.
The Australian and his wife were conned out of a few hundred Australian dollars by a dishonest taxi driver in September, in a case similar to that of Malaysian tourist Y.L., as he recounted in this story sent to Tuoi Tre News.
On the morning of September 22, we took a Mai Linh taxi from the Saigon Notre-Dame Basilica to Ben Thanh Market.
Upon arrival, we offered the taxi driver VND100,000 for the VND23,000 taxi ride. He said he did not have change so we said that would be OK, and that he could keep the change for a tip. He refused and wanted the right money.
There was then much fussing about it by the taxi driver with our envelope which contained both Vietnamese dong and Australian dollars, and we thought he was trying to help us and get the exact money for the fare.
Then a large amount of the money spilled out of the envelope onto the floor of the taxi, so I was busy trying to recover my money. After a minute or two, he accepted the 100,000 dong and we got out of the taxi and he departed.
It was then that we discovered that 300 Australian dollars was missing, and it was too late to do anything because the taxi had left.
We were very unhappy that we might have been robbed. We have been to Vietnam many times and this is the first time we have experienced dishonesty.
We then thought we might go back to the Notre Dame cathedral and ask if a woman in green uniform (who was there when we hailed the cab and who we thought was a police officer) might remember the taxi driver who took us to Ben Thanh.
The woman called her male colleague across and they did remember him and not only that, pointed out that the taxi was parked across the road.
These green-uniformed people and I confronted the taxi driver, who later pulled out five AU$50 notes from his pocket and passed them to me.
I asked about the six AU$50 notes held together by an elastic band but he insisted only five notes were found in his taxi.
There is no way I can verify that he 'found' the money, but I have my suspicions that the AU$300 was secretly put in his pocket during the earlier confusion in his cab.
My wife and I really appreciate the assistance these officers gave us, without which we would have been AU$250 poorer.
We hope that this man and woman, who have assisted a couple of elderly Australians with their positive and very helpful manner, will be recognized and rewarded by their seniors.
I also hope my story can help warn tourists about some dishonest taxi drivers.
Again, I am sorry that the police did not take any action.
But this will not stop us visiting Vietnam in the future.