Vietnam police arrest 10 major credit card hackers

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Huynh Van Man, founder of the hackers forum vietexpert.info, was arrested January 9 for stealing credit card information. Photo courtesy of Tuoi Tre

Ten Vietnamese have been arrested for running two different websites accused of stealing credit card information.

The arrests followed an investigation started early last year, in which the Ministry of Public Security found two online forums with around 5,000 members who discussed hacking into credit cards accounts to steal the information for sale or to buy goods directly.

The arrestees, all founders or managers of the websites, were: Vu Dinh Hung, Pham Thai Thanh and Vu Viet Dung of Hanoi; Le Vinh An Van of the central province of Quang Nam; Pham Tri Nhat of Dong Nai Province; and Huynh Phuoc Man, Le Van Hao Hoa, Vong Quoc Nha, Nguyen Ngoc Hao and Do Ha Duy Thanh from Ho Chi Minh City.

Hung was arrested Friday while the rest were seized the day before.

More than ten other people were summoned for questioning concerning the racket that allegedly managed to steal millions of dollars from thousands of cardholders.

Police said the two forums: vietexpert.info, which was established by Man, 24; and hkvfamily.info by Thanh, 31, started operating in 2011, becoming major hacker forums in Vietnam. The sites provide millions of pieces of information with instructions for attacking websites and committing other fraudulent practices.

Membership to the forums was exclusive only prestigious members were eligible to introduce new ones who in turn had to pay a US$100 membership fee, plus an additional $50 each they ascended to one of the ring's more elite rungs, which would only take place after they had proven trustworthy. The syndicate thrived on secrecy.

Initial investigations found that Man traded the stolen credit card information using two accounts at DongA Bank registered to his girlfriend and his ex. The balance was usually more than VND2 billion (US$94,880).

Police found luxury bags, electronics and cars at the arrestees' homes which had mostly been purchased from overseas, where the victimized cardholders were based.

IT experts said credit card users should only make payments on reliable websites and register SMS service that allows banks to inform customers each time a purchase is made with their card.

Police investigations are ongoing.

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