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VietNam entry scam

VietNam entry scam

Old Mar 18, 2023, 8:12 am
  #1  
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VietNam entry scam

I have been in Thailand quite a while and decided to visit VietNam. I am an American citizen and applied for the online e-visa
and it was approved after 3 days. I fly into Ho Chi Minh City earlier today and wait about an hour to talk to the customs clerk . She tells me that the
number I put down as my passport number has an extra digit inserted and I am suddenly confused because the visa approval
which would be more thorough than a cursory airport customs chat did not show any signs of trouble and I was given the "thumbs up" to visit.
I have to walk over and get a "new" visa...but then it gets ramped up to an "emergency" visa because of this typo.
I ask how much for an "emergency visa" and the cranky clerk says $200 US. I am feeling a little taken advantage of at this point
and say, "Forget it, fly me back to my destination (Bangkok) and he lowers it $170 when he realizes I mean business.
I finally agree to pay for the "emergency visa" and have to exit the airport to get money because he will not take my VISA card. The first ATM will not give me any money and I start to panic. I ask for another ATM location and run 75 meters down by the taxis and pull out 4.2 Million dong.
I walk back feeling like a sucker and start wondering why he would not take payment by VISA card (paper trail!) and am really starting
to get flustered. I walk back to the customs line area and pay the goon 4.2 million dong and leave the airport demoralized...
Anyway, is there anyone I can talk to about this? Airport ? Embassy? They had plenty of time (3 days) to spot the error (if I really made one) and I never should
have been granted the e-visa if there was some kind of clerical error such as they described...much better for them to warn me ahead of time than to throw me into this
Panic Zone.
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yandorio is offline  
Old Mar 18, 2023, 4:03 pm
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Do you not have a copy of your evisa to compare with your passport??
Was this customs or immigration?
​​​​​​Unfortunately in VN there is the odd soul who likes to supplement their income, whether this was the case or not I am unsure, but I definitely would have stood my ground more and asked for a supervisor and evidence of the extra number.
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Old Mar 18, 2023, 4:37 pm
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Welcome to FlyerTalk.

I don't understand why they allowed you to leave the airport to go to an ATM machine when you haven't cleared immigration. What safeguard did they have that you would return?
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Old Mar 18, 2023, 4:47 pm
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Fireman, I did see a discrepancy (inserted 1) between what was written and my actual passport number but it's anyone's guess as to whether
I made the original mistake. You'd think today's software would catch something like that, and you assume everything is kosher after they approve the evisa.
I'm not so opposed to a 10 or 20 dollar fine, but "Emergency" suggests some kind of extreme event like boiling water falling in someone's lap
or heart attack. $170 seems like a lot of money for a simple clerical error in a country where a 3 or 4 star hotel would cost about $12, and the
fact that they would not accept a credit card or give a receipt suggests they were trying to avoid a paper trail of the event...
Anyway, time to move on to Nha Trang. If I had to do it over I would have stood in line again rather than walk over to the special services line.
What are the chances the second clerk would even notice the error?

Last edited by yandorio; Mar 18, 2023 at 5:00 pm
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Old Mar 18, 2023, 4:54 pm
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"I don't understand why they allowed you to leave the airport to go to an ATM machine when you haven't cleared immigration. What safeguard did they have that you would return?"

Great question. Didn't make any sense to me either. The other people who were getting jerked around by these officials were at the ATM outside the airport too. Airport staff saw me doing it and didn't complain after I said "pay for visa" so I go the idea this was a common thing, as weird
as it felt doing it..
I considered running away when I realized I had everything I needed except my passport, which would (maybe) cost less than
$170 to replace, but gave up the idea when I had a vision of my face being broadcast on local TV as fugitive of the week. There is very little English spoken in this airport,and the clerks are aggressive, so most people want to just pay up and keep out of trouble..
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Old Mar 18, 2023, 11:13 pm
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Unfortunately what may have been a 50-100usd cost for this visa can sometimes be made more expensive by officials that like to line their pockets.
Something to remember is if they ask you to put any cash fines or similar in your passport and then hand to them is a red flag as those people don't want to be on video taking cash directly to hand.

I would have pushed back a little harder to be shown paperwork with the cost on it.

I hope this doesn't put a damper on your trip. Enjoy Nha Trang, my wife is from there.
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Old Mar 19, 2023, 9:48 pm
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From the Dept of State's website, bolding is mine:

Pre-approval for Visa on Arrival:The Government of Vietnam has authorized some businesses and travel agencies to arrange for pre-approval for a “visa on arrival” at the airport. However, some U.S. citizens have reported being charged unexpectedly high fees and additional charges upon landing in Vietnam. The Government of Vietnam and the U.S. Department of State recommend that travelers obtain a visa directly from an embassy or consulate of Vietnam prior to arrival.

My guess is the current visa wasn't valid due to the "typo" and they were going to process a visa on arrival, which, as I read it, you need to have an invitation letter which most companies will charge a small fee for. But since you are standing there, no doubt they took advantage of your plight and gouged you for the emergency visa. It is Vietnam after all. Seems common if it's on the DOS's website. Best you can do is report it to the embassy so they can have a record of it. You're not living until you get scammed in Vietnam...happens to the best of us.

Hopefully you enjoy your trip there, beautiful country and can't wait to go back.
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Old Mar 19, 2023, 9:58 pm
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Thanks for the info golfer. Looks like others have been through this too.
It is so nice, and inexpensive, here in this beach town, it is hard to reconcile it with the nightmarish experience in the airport.
There is some other "gaslighting" stuff too they pulled when they did not offer wifi like other airports, futher alienating me
and preventing me from showing them my flight number and airlines, when requested, ending up with them barking at me in front of a crowd, adding insult to injury...
I posted this experience on Reddit too under "Vietnam Entry Scam" 2 days ago and someone has deleted the whole thread.
I have the overall feeling they do not want people to know what is going on there in the airport...and in response to Fireman's comment I went back
and there is no record of any cash paper trail, after refusing to take a credit card, so all things considered, I stand by my assertion this is a slick scam rather than an anomaly or misunderstanding...

Last edited by yandorio; Mar 19, 2023 at 10:15 pm
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Old Mar 19, 2023, 11:27 pm
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Have had this pulled on me in a number of developing world countries. Gotta stand your ground and politely tell them where they should go.
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Old Mar 19, 2023, 11:52 pm
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Originally Posted by Mrgolfer21
From the Dept of State's website, bolding is mine:

Pre-approval for Visa on Arrival:The Government of Vietnam has authorized some businesses and travel agencies to arrange for pre-approval for a “visa on arrival” at the airport. However, some U.S. citizens have reported being charged unexpectedly high fees and additional charges upon landing in Vietnam. The Government of Vietnam and the U.S. Department of State recommend that travelers obtain a visa directly from an embassy or consulate of Vietnam prior to arrival.

My guess is the current visa wasn't valid due to the "typo" and they were going to process a visa on arrival, which, as I read it, you need to have an invitation letter which most companies will charge a small fee for. But since you are standing there, no doubt they took advantage of your plight and gouged you for the emergency visa. It is Vietnam after all. Seems common if it's on the DOS's website. Best you can do is report it to the embassy so they can have a record of it. You're not living until you get scammed in Vietnam...happens to the best of us.

Hopefully you enjoy your trip there, beautiful country and can't wait to go back.
Yes it is always better to get it from the government rather than the agencies. This was going on in Thailand too just after they opened post pandemic.
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Old Mar 20, 2023, 7:38 am
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So it's a scam because most likely you've entered your passport number incorrectly and is being punished for it ? Or is it a scam because the e-visa people are in cahoots with Nha Trang immigration ?
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Old Mar 20, 2023, 8:47 am
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I'd say it's a scam because they are profiting almost $200 from a simple clerical error that somehow never raised any "red flags" until I got there,
even after a 3 day wait where I got the e-visa approved without qualification before traveling, and their insistence on "cash only" with no paper trail just adds more weight to this notion.
Feel free to disagree, but most people are agreeing this is an exorbitant fee to pay on the spot.
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Last edited by yandorio; Mar 20, 2023 at 8:54 am
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Old Mar 20, 2023, 12:14 pm
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Cash only in Vietnam ? No way Jose....
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Old Mar 20, 2023, 9:06 pm
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Hopefully they're coming to their senses with the visa requirement if they want to grow their tourism industry along the lines of what Thailand has achieved.

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/artic...d=premium-asia
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Old Mar 21, 2023, 12:04 am
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Vietnam is definitely moving in the right direction.
The behaviour of some officials requiring persons to pay tea money for different infractions is something that will continue to harm their tourism industry.
Unfortunately it is a behaviour that will take some time to be fixed.
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