The People’s Court of Hanoi on Wednesday sentenced Trinh Minh Hoang, 47, and Do Thi Man, 39, to four and three years, respectively, behind bars for forging seals and documents of agencies and organizations on English competency and computer skill certificates.
Another three members of the fraudulent certificate making ring were sentenced to 20-30-month jail terms.
According to the defendants’ indictment, Hoang initiated the scheme to cash in on the uptick in demand for English command and computer skill certificates needed for graduation applications as far back as 2007.
The defendants admitted to using their personal computers to scan and appropriate the red seal from Jupiter Science English Training Center, an approved supplier of English language and computer skill certificates.
Hoang later rented an office and posted enrollment information for English and computer skill certification programs in 2016.
Through his social and professional network, Hoang eventually connected with Man, a computer skill teacher who, along with the other partners, helped him broaden the network and sell fake certificates.
Hoang was able to earn VND70,000-200,000 ($3-8.5) for an English competnecy certificate and VND50,000 ($2) for a computer skill one.
He asked customers to provide an ID and photos to make the papers.
The investigation revealed that the ring counterfeited the English proficiency certificates of the University of Languages and International Studies under the Vietnam National University, Hanoi.
The certificate counterfeiting ring was additionally accused of forging 50 different types of papers from different agencies and organizations in Hanoi and earning around VND106 million ($4,600).
Regarding the case, 16 people who had been defending graduation theses for master's degrees at the VNU University of Science in Hanoi had their names removed from graduation lists and their master’s degrees revoked last year.
The other five undergraduates implicated in the case received disciplinary decisions, a year of suspension from schooling, and had their names revealed to the entire school.
As authorities do not consider buying fake certificates a criminal act, the buyers will not face legal action.