Vietnam police seize 4 for stealing $99,000 via cellphone spyware

Hanoi police have arrested four men for using spyware to appropriate US$99,000 from over 100,000 cellphone users nationwide

An iPhone 4 is seen in this photo illustration.

Vietnamese police have arrested four local men for using spyware to steal almost US$100,000 from more than 100,000 cellphone users throughout the country.

The four have been identified as Ha Xuan Tien, 23, Nguyen Duc Luc, 24, Nguyen Van Tu, 25, and Tran Ngoc Hai, 29, police in Hanoi said Tuesday.

They were detained on charges of “using computer networks, telecommunications networks, the Internet or digital devices to appropriate property,” the police said.

Tien, Luc, and Tu are workers at Soloha Investment, Construction and Trade Co. Ltd, while Hai is the administrator of the website  

The arrests were made after detectives found out that some websites such as and provided malicious applications to steal money from cellphone users, said Senior Lieutenant Colonel Thanh Kien Trung, deputy head of the police division in charge of busting this ring. 

Police investigations show that when cellphone users install such applications on their phones, the apps will automatically deliver text messages from the cellphones to numbers 8xx8, 6xx6, 8xx7 without the users’ knowledge.

Cellphone users will lose VND15,000 ($0.71), to be credited to the gang’s accounts, after each message is sent, Trung said.

With such a trick, the gang has appropriated about VND2.1 billion ($99,000) from more than 100,000 cellphone users across the country since late last year, the official said.

This is a new trick employed by hi-tech criminals and this case is the first to have ever been discovered in Vietnam, police said, adding that they are expanding their investigation into the fraud.

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