Police probe gang who stole $1.6 mil with fake phone credit

Thanh Nien News

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Police in Quang Ninh are investigating four men for allegedly using counterfeit phone credit stubs to secure a VND35 billion (US$1.64 million) bank loan.
Tran Viet Cuong and Pham Van Duat, both 33, were detained pending an investigation into their role in the alleged scheme.  Dao Anh Tuan, 36, was allowed to remain free but faces the same charge. Police have issued an arrest warrant for Nguyen Van Chung, 34, who is considered the mastermind. Cuong is from Hai Phong, which borders Quang Ninh; the rest are from Hai Duong Province.
The four supposedly began the scheme by buying VND400 million worth of VND100,000 credit stubs issued by the telecom giant MobiFone.
Then they copied the codes (at least 130 times each) onto fake cards at a factory in China.
They then smuggled the forgeries back into Vietnam, Tuoi Tre newspaper reported.
Police say they submitted 300,000 fraudulent credit stubs as collateral to a Hai Duong branch of the Military Bank. Several of the bank employees reportedly knew the men as acquaintances and failed to confirm the stubs' authenticity before issuing them a VND35 billion loan.
A bank representative told VTCNews the four men worked as official MobiFone retailers and had borrowed from the bank several times, repaying their loans each time.
Investigators said the four con men already spent the money for personal purposes and it cannot be recovered.
The bank spokesman said they also mortgaged real estate and cars to secure other loans; the bank is currently verifying that collateral.
Nguyen Ba Binh, deputy director of the Quang Ninh Police, said they launched their investigation after catching a woman carrying a box of nearly 25,000 MobiFone credit stubs across the Mong Cai border gate into Vietnam in January. 
She claimed two men had hired her to carry advertising leaflets across the border.
A check at a MobiFone center found all of them were fake.
Police followed different leads to track down the three members.
A MobiFone representative told Tuoi Tre the counterfeit credit stubs never left the bank. “It’s very easy for us to find out if they were sold to users,” the source said.
The representative said each code is designed to work only once and the forged cards have no value.
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