Two foreigners seized in Vietnam or $115,000 hacking theft

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The Ho Chi Minh City police Monday arrested an American and a Nigerian for the alleged hacking of a local company's email account to divert a payment of more than US$115,000 from its foreign partner to a bogus bank account.

Nigerian Okonkwo Mathias Ugochukwu, 30, and Cletus Chimaobi Hillary, 33, are thought to be members of an international cyber crime gang that stole the money due for the sale of corrugated iron by the local Hoa Sen Group to Malaysian firm KHP Proofing.

According to the city economic crime investigation division (PC46), the gang hacked the email account of a Hoa Sen employee and got the details of the company's sale of nearly 160 tons of corrugated iron to KHP.

The details included a mail asking the Malaysian firm to transfer $115,537 to the company's bank account.

The gang created an email account that looked very similar to the hacked one and from it wrote to the Malaysian company, asking it to transfer the money to the account of a person called Duong Anh Nhung instead.

Nhung and Ugochukwu were arrested when they went to DongA Bank in Phu Nhuan District to get the money on November 26.

They had planned to take $110,000 and pay Nhung the rest. 

Nhung told the police she had been acquainted with the Nigerian on Facebook in 2010 and met him a couple of times.

Ugochukwu had told her that he traded garments, but as a foreigner could not open a bank account in Vietnam, and sought her help.

The police said Hillary was to get 10 percent and Ugochukwu 20 percent of the money.

Senior Lieutenant-Colonel Nguyen Minh Thong, deputy chief of PC46, said many foreigners have recently used this scheme to target Vietnamese companies doing business with foreign firms.

Local businesses need to take precautions and advise their foreign partners to check email addresses carefully and call them up to check before making any money transfers, he warned.

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