Fake phone number software a boon for criminals

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The increasing profligacy of software allowing users to make local and international calls under fake numbers could provide the opportunity for fraudsters to commit other crimes, local experts have warned.

A new software referred to as "F" began showing up at online forums last month, Tuoi Tre reported, adding that the product can be easily downloaded for free.

It asks users to pay for accounts and allows them to make calls for whatever phone number they chose. They can pick a "unique" number like 123456789 or use police phone numbers like 113 and 115.

A hacked account for the software is currently as cheap as VND50,000 (US$2.63), but it allowed users to make up to $100 worth of calls in a 24-hour period. The accounts are now widely available on the Internet.

A university student said he paid VND200,000 for an account worth up to $2,000, meaning that he could "make calls"¦for several years."

While several software users told Tuoi Tre they made calls under fake numbers just for fun, several experts voiced their concerns that others could make use of the software to commit more grave crimes.

Nguyen Minh Duc, head of the Hanoi-based Bach Khoa Internetwork Security's Appliance Security Department, said in fact, users could fake numbers to cheat others, because no one except for mobile phone network operators, no one could tell differences between fake numbers and real ones.

Faking numbers could also allow people to interfere in economic contracts and payments, according to Nguyen Viet The, head of Computer Agency under the Ministry of Public Security.

Not to mention that the cheap accounts could hit Vietnamese mobile phone network operators with huge losses, experts said.

Pham Ngoc Tu, deputy head of mobile phone network operator Vinaphone's Sales and Marketing Department said the software made calls via the Internet with the support of foreign servers, which were totally out of control of local mobile phone operators.

However, Vinaphone said it had with international gateways to stop international calls made via the software, Tu said.

Dinh Viet Hung, a MobiFone representative, said the mobile service giant was studying the software in order to counter it.

Hung said his company considered the problem a "critical matter".

A representative from Viettel also said the company was committed to studying the software

An official from the Hanoi police who requested anonymity told Tuoi Tre that detectives were investigating trading in the software's accounts.

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