Vietnamese students in US accused of swindling millions of dollars

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Two Vietnamese students have been accused of cheating online retailers out of millions of dollars, Star Tribune reported Monday.


According to the newspaper, Tram Vo and Khoi Van, both 22 and studying at Winona State University, are suspected to be part of a cyber crime ring.


They have collected nearly $1.25 million in illegal funds by scamming major companies like eBay, PayPal, Amazon, and Apple.


The students used stolen identities to open accounts with eBay, PayPal and US banks to sell popular, expensive merchandise at discounted prices, the newspaper quoted investigators as saying.

They fill the orders by purchasing the goods from other vendors using stolen financial accounts.


When identity theft victims found out about the false account transactions, their banks issued "chargebacks," to the vendors, whil the cyber criminals would siphon off the money to offshore accounts in Vietnam and Canada, the news source said.


Vo and Van were suspected of creating more than 180 false eBay accounts and more than 360 false PayPal accounts using stolen identities, according to documents unsealed December 29 by a federal magistrate judge in St. Paul.


Star Tribune said the students' acts were found in a US Department of Homeland Security investigation, which was dubbed "Operation eMule." It was officially launched in September 2009 to investigate criminal rings based in Vietnam targeting online commerce and express mail courier operations.

Investigation into the case is still underway, according to the newspaper, adding that the duo would probably face charges of wire fraud, identity theft and money laundering.

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