As reliance on information technology becomes ever more pervasive in society, cybercrime has grown rapidly both in quantity and sophistication in Vietnam, experts said.
The Ministry of Public Security has recently worked with police departments in 52 provinces and cities to dismantle cases of fraud through the use of the Internet, telecommunications and banking system to illegally appropriate property.
The trick the criminals deployed was looking for the accounts of bank customers who did not subscribe to Internet banking services.
The criminals hacked into the banks’ websites and found ways to access the accounts and subscribe to online banking services.
Then, posing as bank employees, they called the account holders asking for an OTP (one-time password) to disburse a loan. If the customer provided the password, the criminals could log into the account and steal money, transferring it to their own accounts.
An old method but one still deployed by criminals was pretending to be employees of lottery companies to cheat people.
Investigators determined that over 560 victims have been affected by the fraud, with the total damage estimated to reach 43 billion dong (Bt61.6 million).
A dozen suspects have been arrested and many documents have been seized.
Illegal gambling on the Internet has also become more sophisticated over the past few years.
The most typical example was a case involving an online gambling ring worth 9.8 trillion dong, discovered by police in the northern province of Phu Tho and the Ministry of Public Security.
The provincial police were asked to bring to court 92 people on seven criminal charges, from organising gambling activities and purchasing fake invoices to money laundering, bribing and abuse of power.
The ringleaders of the online gambling case (held via the card game rikvip/tip.club) were identified as Phan Sao Nam, former chairman of VTC Online Telecommunication company, and Nguyen Van Duong, chairman of CNC, a private hi-tech security company in Hanoi and later chairman of infrastructure development company UDIC.
Since 2014, nearly 43 million accounts were created to join the gambling ring, bringing in revenues of nearly 10 trillion dong.
Although the organisation of football betting is strictly prohibited, this kind of crime has increased in recent years.
In the 2018 World Cup, online betting with transactions valued at thousands of billions of dong was busted by local police. However, it was not easy to investigate as the masterminds in these cases had contact with servers in foreign countries.
Cyber criminals have often exploited several tricks including using social network sites to illegally appropriate other people’s property, the newspaper Kinh te va do thi (Economic and Urban Affairs) reported.
They created Facebook or Zalo accounts and sold household equipment and clothes at an extremely low price to lure customers.
Once the customers expressed interest, they were asked to transfer payments in advance and the contact was quickly cut off after money was received.
The criminals might also hack social-network accounts and then send messages to the users’ contact lists to borrow money, asking them to purchase phone cards with big denominations to steal their property.
They could steal information to take money from ATMs and use fake credit cards to buy expensive goods.
Other crimes involved people pretending to be banking officials and making Internet calls to cheat people.
According to a report from the Hanoi Public Security Department, last year about 97 hi-tech criminal cases were discovered by the police, resulting in the arrests of 165 people.
The police solved 33 criminal cases in the first six months of this year, a reduction of 17 compared with the same period last year.
Data from Internetworldstats.com, a website dedicated to tracking the number of Internet users around the world, showed that, by mid-2017, Vietnam had 64 million users, representing 67 per cent of the population.
The figure gives Vietnam the 12th-highest number of users in the world and ranks it sixth among 35 countries and territories in Asia.
Some believe the Law on Cybersecurity recently adopted by the National Assembly and taking effect in January 1 will be an effective tool to protect the online community and to assist in the fight against hi-tech cybercrime.
Critics at home and abroad, though, say it will stymie the growth of Internet use and hamper firms’ online marketing activities.
According to the Ministry of Public Security, once the law is implemented, it will help protect users from malicious information that could affect their honour, reputation and dignity and from other activities that might affect their legitimate rights and interests.
In addition, the risk of the theft of personal information will also be minimised, while gambling and the dissemination of negative cultural products will be eliminated.