|VFCD - A Fraudulent Organisation|
After being contacted by Lorraine Elletson, a former VFCD volunteer, a couple of months ago, we decided to suspend VFCD's VolunteeringInfo organisation listing. This was due to concerns raised by Lorraine which lead us to believe that VFCD may be fraudulent. Upon contacting VFCD (which, to the best of our knowledge, is an organisation consisting of only one man, Mr. Son) and detailing our concerns, it took several weeks before we received a reply. When we finally did, the answer did address many of our concerns; indeed, VFCD included a copy of their e-mail communications with Lorraine and these appeared to show that VFCD were not at fault - the problem was that we had been given a copy of the same string of e-mails by Lorraine, and the two did not match up.
After raising our concerns on VolunteeringInfo, we were contacted by another disgruntled ex-VFCD volunteer who, like Lorraine, had paid for more than they received. Finally, we were contacted a couple of weeks ago by a third volunteer, Alex, whose experience with VFCD had been similar to the other two. Indeed, the below excerpt from his e-mail summarises the experience of all volunteers we have been in touch with quite well:
"Upon our arrival in Sapa, it transpired we would be teaching at a school in the town, not in a rural area, and staying in a hotel in the town as well. This was not what we had signed up for, and further to this our contact in Sapa told us that Mr Son wanted another $400 from us to cover accommodation costs. At this point we knew we had been scammed, and refused to give them another penny. We thought hard long and hard about the school's involvement with such untrustworthy characters as Mr Son, but decided to do our two weeks of teaching regardless. The time we spent at the school was great, but proved to be the only times when we weren't pursuing Mr Son for our money back or just being generally annoyed by the whole thing.
We have now returned to Hanoi, where we have just been to the address that was at the foot of some of his initial emails he sent to us back in February/ March of this year. Upon arriving at this address we have found that he has moved on elsewhere. We called him at this point (strangely he still answers his phone to us, despite probably 30 calls/text messages/emails from us asking him to refund our money). He then told us he would send us his new office address over a text as the reception was bad. We hesitantly agreed. No text arrived and his phone was then turned off. "
Based on the above, we have decided to suspend the VFCD organisation entry permanently. We would also strongly urge anyone considering to volunteer with VFCD to think twice before sending over any payment.