Vietnamese woman trades neighbour's 2-year-old granddaughter for iPhone 11

We've all heard of Apple fans who queue for hours to get their hands on the latest iPhone. But one Vietnamese woman's desire to procure an iPhone 11 led her to do the unthinkable — selling off her neighbour's granddaughter.

Thai Thi Bich Hanh, 42, was detained by police in An Giang province on Nov 16 for selling the two-year-old girl to a friend that she had met online, said local media reports.

The girl lived with her grandmother, who was her main caregiver, but Thai would watch the toddler occasionally.

She had been playing with the girl and video-chatting with Tran Tuan Vinh, 29, when Tran had commented on how cute the child was.

The woman then hatched a plot to sell the girl to Tran, telling him that the girl's father had abandoned her and her mother was addicted to gambling.

The girl was going to be sent to a temple to live, she added.

Seeing that Tran was sympathetic to the girl's "plight", she offered to bring him the girl in exchange for a new iPhone 11, which is priced from 22 million VND (S$1,295) at authorised resellers in Vietnam.

On Oct 31, Thai told the girl's grandmother that she was taking her out to play. Instead, she brought the toddler to Tran, who gave her the phone and an additional one-and-a-half million VND to cover her taxi fare.

Thai then feigned ignorance of the girl's whereabouts and even reported the child missing to the police, claiming that she had left her at home and gone out to work.

However, Thai admitted the truth when police grew suspicious after inconsistencies in her testimony.

On Nov 3, police tracked down the girl at Tran's residence and reunited her with her grandmother.

Under Vietnam's penal code, those who fraudulently exchange or appropriate children face between three and 10 years of imprisonment.