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Online trading of counterfeit money runs rampant in Vietnam

Thursday, January 28, 2016, 11:40 GMT+7

People in Vietnam are becoming increasingly concerned over a situation in which counterfeit money trading services are being advertised publicly on social media.

Several accounts, groups, and pages created by Vietnamese Facebook users are advertising their service of trading real currency for counterfeit money.

In one case, images of Vietnamese currency have been uploaded to a Facebook account named Kiet Nguyen, along with an appealing caption stating “VND1 million [US$44.78] in exchange for VND4 million [$179.12] in fake money. Join me if you want to earn extra cash. You don’t have to work hard, you just have to spend.”

Another account with the name Ong Chu Buon, whose profile indicates that the user is in Hanoi, offers a similar service with an exchange rate of VND10 million ($447.8) in counterfeit cash for every VND2 million ($89.56) in real bills.

The Facebook pages are even attracting clients with discount policies and the assurance that the fake bills are a 98 percent match with the real banknotes.

During a phone call with Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper reporters, one of the Facebook account owners reported that the counterfeit money can only be spotted by specialized scanning devices.

“If you are afraid of getting caught, do not spend big amounts at a time, split the money into smaller portions and disburse them in countryside localities,” the man advised.

A Tuoi Tre probe showed that many of the clients claimed that they had been scammed as they did not receive any money and were unable to contact the dealers after completing the payment.

The information has been reported to competent authorities so that they may carry out an investigation as well as issue public warnings, said Nguyen Hoang Minh, deputy director of the southern branch of the State Bank of Vietnam.

Regulations promulgated by the State Bank of Vietnam in 2010 clearly state that the bank is the only institution that is authorized to issue cash in the country, and all forms of counterfeiting activity, including trading and storing fake money, are forbidden, said Nguyen Van Hau, vice president of the Ho Chi Minh City Lawyers Association.

Violators of these regulations will face a fine of between VND150 million ($6,717) and VND200 million ($8,956), according to Hau.

He added that aside from the financial penalty, offenders may be sentenced to three to seven years in prison. In more serious cases, prison time could reach 12 years, in accordance with Article 180 of the Penal Code.

A new section was added to the Penal Code in 2015 which strengthens the punishment imposed upon individuals committing the crime, the vice president said, adding that it will come into effect on July 1 this year.

According to the new Article 207, people who produce, store, deliver, and use counterfeit money will serve a mandatory three to seven years in jail if the total value of fake cash is below VND5 million ($223.9), five to 12 years if the value is between VND5 million and VND50 million ($2,239), and 20 years to life imprisonment if the value is over VND 50 million, Hau elaborated.

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