Le Ngoc Tri, head of the Anti Hi-tech Crime Police Department (PC50) from the Ministry of Public Security, spoke to Kinh te &Do thi (Economy & Urban Affairs) newspaper about financial swindles.
Please give us an overview of the methods criminals adopt, using fake bank cards and SIM cards, to withdraw money from ATMs or to blackmail people?
I have to concede that such crimes have increased in recent times. In 2014 alone, many cases of fraud have been detected and foiled nationwide, in cities such as Ha Noi, Da Nang and Ho Chi Minh City and in the provinces of Ben Tre, Thai Nguyen and others.
In Ha Noi alone, 16 cases of fraud were detected in May and June.
More seriously, some criminals have established "fake companies" and used fake bank cards to withdraw money.
These days, criminals use hi-tech to commit crimes. But they cannot escape punishment.
How do you assess the severity of these crimes?
During our investigations, we realised that a majority of the fraudsters are foreigners who come to Viet Nam as tourists. They use fake passports and bank cards bearing other people's names. Of course, they operate in groups and each group is in charge of a specific mission. For example, one group is in charge of stealing data, another of making fake ATM cards and yet another goes to the ATM booths to withdraw money, and so on.
These are organised crimes involving foreigners. They coordinate with each other very closely and use hi-tech to hide their tracks.
According to one report, in May and June, criminals defrauded nine people in Ha Noi of nearly VND 2 billion ($ 95,000).
Some criminals even impersonate policemen to cheat people of their money or valuable assets.
In your opinion, what are the causes of the increase in such crimes?
There are two main reasons. Firstly, the magnetic ATM cards are not really safe as the technology which is used to make them is very simple. The swindlers buy the data backup equipment, which is widely available abroad, and bring them to Viet Nam to make fake bank cards.
We have already notified the customs office of these equipments. Currently, many countries have enforced the use of ATM chip cards as they are safer than magnetic cards.
Secondly, the administration of the Internet and SIM cards in Viet Nam is not strict. Anyone can buy a SIM card without divulging his personal information or can access public Internet without any problem. These allow hi-tech crimes to increase rapidly.
What would you advise people to do to avoid being cheated by criminals?
First, the work of administration and sharing of information between banks and the police should be promoted. When banks detect any suspicious transaction, they should inform the police immediately.
It is very easy to open a bank account in Viet Nam. That's why many people open several bank accounts and then sell their account information to criminals. This is a loophole which allows criminals to commit crimes.
In my opinion, banks should impose stricter rules on people wanting to open new accounts or to transfer their accounts to other users.
On the other hand, I request all people to manage their personal information better. Personal information should be considered as their asset and other people should not be allowed to use it without good reason.
To avoid being swindled, never give away personal information over the phone to a stranger. In case of any suspicious acts or requests from unknown callers, please inform the nearest police station immediately. — VNS