Vietnamese police bust fake ATM card ring

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Ho Chi Minh City police have arrested one Vietnamese and three Malaysian men for allegedly using fake ATM cards to withdraw money from local banks. They are believed to be members of a transnational crime ring.

The first arrest, of Co Kim Thach, a 39-year-old resident of District 5, was made on December 30, 2011.

At around 5:45 a.m. on that day, Thach withdrew money from an ATM belonging to the Asia Commercial Bank on Binh Thoi Street in District 11. He was caught by the police when he walked out of the ATM booth.

The police confiscated more than VND40 million in cash and 23 roughly-made ATM cards, which did not have the names and logos of the banks and cardholders information on them.

They also found 28 receipts of money withdrawal from ATMs of various banks, including Techcombank, Sacombank and Asia Commercial Bank.

Earlier in December, some commercial banks and international bank branches in HCMC had reported to the police that their customers were finding money missing from their ATM accounts.

They said the transactions were usually made between 4:30 and 6:30 a.m. at ATM booths in District 11.

The police then checked all the locations where the transactions were made and kept a close watch on cameras in the ATM booths.

They identified some frequent locations and time spans as well as similar features of the persons who were withdrawing money from the ATMs, and were able to catch Thach.

Thach told to the police he had met a Singaporean national named Cheng one month earlier.

On December 28, 2011, Cheng gave him some ATM cards and asked him to withdraw money for 0.1 percent "commission."

Thach withdrew VND18 million and was paid VND800,000.

Two days later, Thach continued his work. He withdrew some VND40 million and was arrested.

Based on his testimony, police arrested Cheng, who used a Singaporean passport under the name of Luis Khoo Boo, 29, at a hotel in District 11.

They seized 13 credit cards from the hotel room and arrested two Malaysian men Yeap Poh Boon and Looi Haw Yang who were staying in the room with Boo at that time.

Police then found out Boo was using a fake passport. His real name was Loi Haw Shyan and he was a 22-year-old Malaysian national.

Police seized more than 40 fake ATM and credit cards, laptops, printers used for making ATM cards, ATM card reader devices and other equipment from hotel rooms and apartments where the three men had stayed.

The Malaysian men said they brought fake ATM and credit cards provided by a Malaysian gang leader to Vietnam in late November 2011.

After they arrived in Vietnam, they were provided with accommodation and equipment used to make fake cards.

The men were then told to meet other gang members at local hotels or restaurants to receive roughly-made ATM and credit cards.

Meanwhile, they were provided with the information about the card serial numbers, banks and cardholders as well as PIN numbers via telephone.

After that, they used the equipment provided to print the card numbers, the names of cardholders and banks on the cards.

They then sought to hire people like Thach to withdraw money.

According to police, the men also withdrew money from ATMs in Hanoi, using fake cards with the information of cardholders in HCMC.

Police are extending investigations into the case.

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