Vietnam's hi-tech crimes investigation department Monday said that they have busted a ring of Vietnamese hackers who had used 100,000 credit cards in the UK, pocketing billions of dong.
The busting operation was conducted in cooperation with the UK police, said Nguyen Thanh Hoa, chief of the department (C50) under the Ministry of Public Security.
Le Dang Khoa, Nguyen Ngoc Lam, Nguyen Ngoc Thanh and Nguyen Dinh Nghia belonging to Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi, joined hands with some foreigners to hack the system of a UK company to steal security information on the credit cards worth 6 million pounds (US$9.32 million) in total.
The suspects are all young and highly skilled in information technology applications, Hoa said.
They told police that they usually transferred money from hacked accounts to their bank accounts in small amounts so that the credit card holders didn't notice.
Later they hired people to use their ID cards to withdraw money.
The hackers said they spent the money on laptops and other costly things.
Police said they'd also spent over VND4.7 billion (US$7.3 million) buying gold and invested billions of dong into real estate. The hackers also sold the credit card information online, they added.
This is a critical case and police are considering placing the suspects under investigation and seeking charges against them, Hoa said.
However, the official admitted that they would face difficulties in handling the case, because current laws to deal with such crimes still have several shortcomings.
Under laws, police have to identify the victims, how they lost their money and how much they lost, but in this case victims didn't even know that they'd lost money, Hoa explained.
"Moreover, it's not easy to identify the victims."
There has been an increase recently in the number of hi-tech crimes but Vietnam is still under-equipped to deal with them, particularly lacking skilled personel. Meanwhile, many organizations in industries at high risk of such crimes were still negligent about them, Hoa stressed.
He said the C50 department was currently investigating another case where 1,000 credit accounts in Australia were hacked; as also a case where local hackers joined hands with foreigners to use stolen credit card accounts to buy air tickets online and re-sell at cheaper prices.
The C50 department esetimates that by using such tricks, hackers would be able to inflict the airlines with a loss of up to five percent of their annual sales.