Woman held for kidnapping of American children in Saigon

A police photo shows two American girls who were kidnapped for $50,000 ransom.
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The Vietnamese-American demanded $50,000 from a ‘friend’ for the safe return of his daughters.

Police in Ho Chi Minh City detained a woman on Monday for allegedly organizing the kidnapping of two American children and demanding a $50,000 ransom fee.

Truong Thanh Huong, a 50-year-old Vietnamese American, was arrested after the father of the children filed a police report last week. His daughters, five and seven years old, are American citizens.

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Tran Hoang, 45, the father, said his children did not return home last Wednesday, so he went to their school but could not find them.

The next morning, he received a text message demanding a $50,000 ransom fee and instructions not to inform the police, but the family still decided to seek help.

Camera footage from the school showed the family’s babysitter picking the girls up and sending them away with a strange man on a motorbike.

On Friday, the father received another message telling him to bring the money to a location in Binh Duong Province outside the city. He was also sent a video showing his daughters asking for their dad to come and collect them.

Police began to suspect that the kidnapper knew the family, because the girls did not look scared.

Huong, a friend of the family, became a prime suspect after showing up at their house crying and urging them to pay the money.

A further investigation led police to a house that she rented on a city’s outskirts, where they found the girls with their babysitter. The helper said she had been following Huong’s instructions and was unaware that the girls were being held for ransom.

Huong has admitted to participating in the crime, but claimed she was only following Hoang’s instructions.

According to Huong, Hoang was having financial issues so he asked her to stage the kidnapping of his children, hoping that his rich mother would agree to pay the ransom.

In return for Huong’s participation, Hoang agreed not to reveal her secret that she moved to Vietnam to dodge a police investigation into a crime in the U.S. that she was involved in.

Police have summoned Hoang for questioning after finding Huong’s claims credible.

Kidnapping is punishable by up to seven years in jail in Vietnam, and up to 12 years if there are multiple victims or any of them are injured. – VNExpress

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