Wednesday 10/28/20
CORONAVIRUS

US citizens lose 1 million dollars in Vietnamese hand sanitizer scam

Three men set up over 300 websites and hundreds of email accounts to sell products online that never reached the US.
Hand-sanitizer

The coronavirus has ruined many families around the world. But there are also people who have taken advantage of the pandemic to make a lot of money by scamming others.

More than 7,000 US citizens have been swindled by a group of Vietnamese tricksters in a hand sanitizer wire fraud scheme, which saw online shoppers pay a combined total of just under 1 million dollars, the US consulate in Vietnam said on Tuesday.

Three Vietnamese suspects have been arrested following a collaborative investigation between Vietnam’s Ministry of Public Security and the US Department of Homeland Security, according to a statement released by the US Consulate General in Ho Chi Minh City.

"The arrest of multiple suspects by Vietnam’s Ministry of Public Security clearly demonstrates Vietnam’s government 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," US Ambassador to Vietnam Daniel J. Kritenbrink said in a statement.

The three Vietnamese men – Phan Dinh Thu, Tran Quoc Khanh and Nguyen Duy Toan – reportedly engaged in a scheme selling hand sanitizer to citizens across all 50 states, according to court papers filed in the US on August 3.

More than 300 websites

The trio allegedly set up over 300 websites, which they used to profit from the pandemic by selling hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes – products that never reached the US. They also reportedly set up hundreds of fake email accounts to try and keep their hands clean.

US investigators uncovered almost 40,000 transactions worth a combined total of around 975,000 dollars, according to local media reports.

As of Tuesday, Vietnam has recorded 25 deaths related to Covid-19. In the US, that figure has climbed over 170,000.

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