Dozens duped by mutant orchid scams

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A mutant orchid with the name Huyền thoại cánh bướm đại ngàn (Legend of the Great Butterfly), which is described by its owners as a unique flower. — Photo zingnews.vn

HÀ NỘI — Dozens of Vietnamese people have recently lost money to lucrative orchid scams that have grown in sophistication and scale, as fraudsters entice victims with get-rich-quick schemes.

So-called 'mutant orchids' have recently become in high demand, and unscrupulous flower traders are cashing in.

Nguyễn Văn Sự from the northern province of Vĩnh Phúc said he learned about mutant orchids through social networks and his acquaintances.

He visited orchid gardens in Hoài Đức and Chương Mỹ districts in Hà Nội and Yên Thủy District in Hòa Bình Province before spending billions of Vietnamese dong to buy the mutant orchids.

After selling the flowers though, his customers said they weren't in fact mutant orchids, claimed Sự had deceived them and demanded compensation.

“Now I’m in debt of nearly VNĐ10 billion (US$433,400),” he told zingnews.vn, adding that the garden owners showed him real mutant orchids but gave him normal orchids.

Sự is one of many people who have reported similar incidents to police recently.

In March, police in Hưng Yên Province said there had been two transactions of mutant orchids worth dozens of billions of đồng.

Six Ngọc Sơn Cước mutant orchids were reportedly sold for VNĐ34 billion in Khoái Châu District’s Thuận Hưng Commune, while Phố Hiến Orchids Association in Hưng Yên City recorded a mutant orchid being traded for VNĐ40 billion.

Also in March, B.H.T, the owner of an orchid garden in Hải Phòng City said he had sold 5,000 Ngọc Sơn Cước mutant orchid seedlings for VNĐ250 billion.

According to T, the buyer was willing to spend so much on the flowers due to their beauty and special fragrance.

He also said that for some mutant orchids, the value can reach VNĐ30 billion per seedling in his 12ha garden.

On July 2, last year, a mutant orchid pot called Huyền thoại cánh bướm đại ngàn (Legend of the Great Butterfly) drew public attention for its beauty. Later, a baby mutant orchid plant reportedly sold for VNĐ15 billion.

On January 1, police in Pleiku City, Gia Lai Province, issued a notice to 25-year-old Nguyễn Tùng Dương from Thanh Hóa Province’s Thiệu Hoá District and 32-year-old Bùi Huy Hoàng from Hòa Bình Province’s Yên Thủy District on suspicion of scams involving mutant orchids.

According to police, three residents in the province and one person from Bà Rịa-Vũng Tàu Province reported to Pleiku police that had been cheated by Dương and Hoàng after buying many orchids with a total value of VNĐ984 million.

Hoắc Công Tưởng, a resident of Hà Giang Province, said he bought a mutant orchid named '5 cánh trắng Phú Thọ' for VNĐ96 million from a man named Chung in Phú Tho Province.

Then he detected the orchid wasn’t the one that had been advertised and soon after he learned the seller was also a victim. Chung had been swindled by a group of fraudsters to the tune of VNĐ7 billion.

Similarly, Minh Đức from Thanh Hoá Province’s Sầm Sơn City said he purchased a mutant orchid online for VNĐ50 million.

Upon hearing many people say the plant was not a mutant orchid, Đức called the seller but his phone number was no longer in service.

“Later I found out that a lot of people were fooled by sellers like him,” he said.

Prosecution

In December last year, Tân Sơn District police in Phú Thọ Province arrested Bùi Văn Điệp, Đinh Văn Đô and Đinh Văn Sử, all living in Hòa Bình Province’s Yên Thủy District, for fraud.

According to the police, they stuck mutant orchids to normal orchids using glue and stole a total of more than VNĐ1 billion from many people.

Nguyễn Hải Trung, director of Hà Nội Police, said they had received many fraud reports related to the sale of mutant orchids.

"Under the direction of the Ministry of Public Security, the Hà Nội Police has asked units to urgently verify and investigate the incidents," he said, adding that all violations would be strictly dealt with.

Nguyễn Ngọc Mễ, head of Hoài Đức District Police, said eight people have submitted reports related to such incidents and investigations were underway.

According to the police, fraudsters often create fake transactions, enticing many people to invest in mutant orchids in the hopes of getting rich quickly.

They recommend that people should carefully research mutant orchids to avoid being taken advantage of.

Phạm Văn Đông, deputy head of Fruit and Vegetable Research Institute, a leading expert in flowers and ornamental plants in Việt Nam, said: "The orchid is a plant, and the variation on this plant is completely normal."

Regarding the value of mutant orchids, there is also no scientific work proving the medicinal effects or other usages of the plant, he told Dân Trí newspaper.

In other words, the exaggerated price of mutant orchids and their scarcity, are based solely on the grower's personal sense of beauty and rarity.

The huge transactions could even be faked to increase the value of the orchid, Đông said. — VNS

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