Scammers offering SIM card upgrade steal money from bank customers

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A person makes purchases using a credit card. Photo by Shutterstock/Thicha Satapitanon

Many people have reported losing billions of dong (tens of thousands of dollars) falling prey to scammers posing as staff of the calling network operator to offer a SIM card upgrade.

Earlier this year, Nguyen Thi Ha Thu in Ho Chi Minh City lost 2.1 billion VND ($84,427) after someone, claiming to be a MobiFone employee, called and asked if she wanted to upgrade his SIM card.

The caller provided Ha with a code and told him to send it to a MobiFone number starting with 901, which is also one of the network operator’s numbers.

“The caller read all my personal information, so I had no doubts.”

Several hours after sending the code to the given number, his SIM card was locked and his savings of 2.1 billion VND disappeared.

Thanh Tam at HCMC fell victim to a similar scam and lost 30 million VND in 30 minutes.

After deactivating his SIM card, the caller changed his banking app password and was able to access it to transfer the money to other accounts.

The Vietnam Competition and Consumer Authority (VCCA) has confirmed that it has recently received numerous reports of this type of scam.

The caller usually tries to get a victim’s SIM card details and activate it as an electronic SIM card on another device. This person then calls the victim’s bank, gives the required personal identifier and asks for a new online banking password.

Several banks, including HSBC, VPBank and NamABank, repeatedly warned their customers about this scam.

“This type of scam was reported a few years ago but is now resurfacing as many people are looking to upgrade their SIM card to 4G or 5G,” VPBank said.

Several banks have enhanced their verification process to prevent this scam, using voice or facial recognition technology. Some lenders block an account’s transactions for 12 hours after changing its password to prevent theft.

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