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|Tran Van Phong and the votive paper he gave to the two foreign visitors as change. The votive paper money is usually burnt as offerings for deceased relatives in Vietnam. - Photo anninhthudo.vn|
The two visitors Miguel Fernandez Lamelas and Elena Blasco Hernandez, were also from Spain, not France as earlier reported, and arrived in Hanoi on July 15.
The day after, the couple took a ride with Tran Van Phong, 29, from a restautant to their hotel in Long Bien District at around 7pm for VND37,000 ($1.6). They gave Phong a VND500,000 ($22) note, but he gave them votive paper as change, which is usually burnt as offerings for deceased relatives in Vietnam.
The tourists said it was the first time they had visited the country, so they were unable to distinguish between real money and votive paper money.
It was only a day later, when they tried to use the money to pay another taxi driver, that they realised they’d been cheated.
Working on the case, police also discovered that they were charged VND1.5 million ($67) for a one-hour cyclo ride in Hanoi last Monday. Normal rates range between VND100,000-300,000 ($4-13) per person per hour.