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On the morning of July 8, a man on a dark-blue scooter stopped outside a rental room on National Highway 13 in Ho Chi Minh City’s Thu Duc District.

A man invited him to come in and handed him some cash and two seals. The guest went over the seals carefully.

“Since I am doing business with you for the first time, I must take a deposit,” My, the visitor, told Nam.

“After this time, I will not need a deposit but will deliver the goods upon receiving the money.”

My, a member of a gang of forgers, had agreed to make two fake seals for Nam – one a round stamp bearing the name of Vien Minh Trading & Services Co Ltd and the other a square seal with the name Nguyen Viet Hoang, a sales manager at this company.

After scrutinizing Nam’s seals, My said it was not difficult to make the round seal used by businesses. His gang could even make stamps with the national emblem on them, he claimed.

Their charges were VND20 million (US$952) for a company seal, VND15 million for a university seal, and more than VND25 million if the national emblem was required.

“In Saigon, only gutsy guys like us dare make banned items like this,” My boasted.

My held out a fake seal, stamped a sheet of paper, and said a deserving one like it should have sharp lines and no ink blurs. Making a copper seal took nearly a month since it was a very difficult process, he said, while plastic and aluminum seals took just half the time.

My took a phone from his pocket and called someone. He asked Nam for an advance of VND5 million and said a person would deliver the items a week later.

When the customer hesitated, My said he could deposit just VND1 million if he did not trust him.

He made a receipt on a piece of paper, writing “Received Mr. Nam’s deposit of VND1 million for the service,” and signing as My Van My.

My listed some conditions: Both sides had to stop contacting each other by phone from that moment and Nam could only send messages to his new email address; when the seals were ready, someone would call Nam to ask him to take delivery.

“If discovered by police, send a message to my old email address and I will terminate all contacts with you,” My said.

Fake seals of all kinds

Hiep, who runs a forgery gang in HCM City’s District 7, offers to make round seals of all kinds. He charges VND20 million for a company stamp, VND15-17 million in case of universities, and VND5 million for just a name.

When someone wanted a round seal of TK Co Ltd and one with the name of B.D.K., the company’s director, Hiep demanded a deposit of VND3 million.

“We do this job and know the consequences — sooner or later we will be arrested by the police,” he said.

But he also issued a threat: “Whoever harms us, we don’t let them be at peace.”

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