Mbouwe Ebubu, 41, was the only member of the con gang to come face to face with the victim, a 29-year-old in Thu Duc District.
The victim, known only as Vi, in early 2014 got to know a foreign man – Ebubu – on social media who claimed to be an American.
In March that year, following many chats and the blossoming of an online romance, Alex, as he called himself, told Vi he would send her a safe with US$320,000 inside for his new life in Vietnam with her.
A woman, claiming to be from a Malaysian shipping company, then asked her to pay US$1,000 for the shipping fee.
Since Alex vouched for her, Vi sent the money immediately.
|South African man Mbouwe Ebubu, 41, during a court in Ho Chi Minh City on September 24. Photo credit: VnExpress.
A man, claiming to be the shipper, called her to say he was stopped at the airport with the safe and she had to pay US$2,000 to complete the paperwork.
More demands were made, like insurance fee, and in all Vi sent them more than VND200 million, or nearly US$9,000.
On March 20 last year Ebubu came to see Vi at her house with a small safe.
He said wads of green paper that were inside the safe were actually dollars, and Vi had to wash them with a certain chemical to restore their original appearance.
Vi asked him for the chemical and was asked to pay US$60,000 for it.
Vi finally got suspicious and reported to the police, who apprehended Ebubu when he came for the money.
Other members of his gang are believed to be living abroad.