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From the information provided by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Vietnamese Ministry of Public Security conducted a separate investigation and arrested three suspects: Phan Dinh Thu, Tran Quoc Khanh and Nguyen Duy Toan, all Vietnamese citizens. They were accused of participating in a fraudulent scheme to gain illicit profits in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
|The suspects operated more than 300 websites intended to fraudulently sell scarce products during the pandemic.|
According to the civil complaint and court papers, the defendants operated more than 300 websites intended to fraudulently sell products that were becoming scarce during the pandemic, including hand sanitizer and antibacterial wet towels. More than 7,000 victims from all 50 US states ordered these products from the defendants' websites but did not receive the items afterwards.
The complaint alleges that the defendants created hundreds of email accounts and user accounts with US payment methods to commit fraudulent activity and to evade law enforcement.
They also listed false contact information on the websites, causing irrelevant individuals and businesses to receive uncountable complaints from the frauds' victims. Investigators of the US Department of Homeland Security Investigation discovered nearly 40,000 fraudulent transactions worth approximately USD$975,000.
“The arrest of multiple suspects by Vietnam’s Ministry of Public Security (MPS) clearly demonstrates the Government of Vietnam takes COVID-19 related crimes seriously. This investigation resulted in significant financial losses to people who were already facing enormous challenges due to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said U.S. Ambassador Daniel J. Kritenbrink. “We are proud of the partnership between MPS and Homeland Security Investigations on this complex transnational fraud investigation.”
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