Woman sues Vietcombank for $467,000 scam

By Thanh Lam   June 23, 2024 | 04:59 pm PT
Woman sues Vietcombank for $467,000 scam
A Vietcombank branch. Photo by Vietcombank
A woman in the northern province of Bac Ninh is suing Vietcombank for not warning her before con artists swindled her out of VND11.9 billion ($467,492) from her account.

The woman, known only as Chuc at this time, said she went to a Vietcombank branch in Tu Son City to open an account on April 22, 2022.

According to her, from April 22 to April 24 that year, she and her family had transferred over VND11.9 billion into the newly opened account.

Chuc said she "did not receive any phone call or message" from Vietcombank about changes to the amount of funds in the account.

As the bank was closed for the weekend April 23 and 24, Chuc said she visited the branch on April 25 to check her account balance. She was then told she only had VND114,000 in the account, she said, but according to her, she had not yet ever withdrawn any of the vast amount of money she had deposited.

Chuc said Vietcombank employees at the branch did not adequately guide her through any official process, nor did they perform emergency procedures to prevent the money in her account from being stolen. They merely told her to report the matter to the police, she said.

Chuc claimed that she had been defrauded by two people: one named To Ngoc Dau and the other called Hai.

The pair had previously approached Chuc posing as police officers and were able via several phone calls to trick Chuc into granting them access to VND26.5 billion in her account, which they then stole.

Chuc said the con artists told her she had been involved in a traffic accident in Da Nang, as well as a drug trafficking ring.

Hai then told Chuc to open two bank accounts and install an application called "Security Program" onto her phone, the woman alleged.

The accused imposters then asked Chuc to transfer VND26.5 billion into the two opened accounts to "prove that her money is clean."

Chuc then asked her relatives to transfer the money into the two accounts, including one at the Vietcombank branch.

Also on April 22, 2022, per Hai's request, Chuc purchased a new phone, then installed the "Security Program" application on it.

Hai and Chuc only contacted each other via Viber.

Authorities said the so-called "Security Program" application is often used by criminals to read, send and process messages. Investigators said the app also has the ability to both steal and create call histories, reroute calls and access device locations.

At the original trial she brought before the Tu Son District People's Court back in March, Chuc requested Vietcombank to return all her lost money.

She claimed the bank employees "did not adequately explain to her or help her understand security regulations," which caused her to lose her money.

Vietcombank denied the claim, saying it had adequately provided for Chuc as a customer in line with all regulations, policies and instructions governing the opening and using of her bank accounts. The bank said Chuc was "manipulated" by the two alleged imposters, not the national lender.

The powerful financial institution argued that Chuc thus "willingly" installed the application on her phone and did not follow transaction safety instructions issued by the bank.

The bank has requested the court to dismiss Chuc’s lawsuit.

Court judges then ruled that the direct cause of the incident was Chuc installing the application on her phone per instructions by the police imposters, which led to her loss of control over her phone and phone numbers.

However, the court also ruled that the Vietcombank branch that opened Chuc’s account was also partially at fault for not carefully explaining bank regulations, or warning customers of the grave potential for such scams and schemes.

The court ordered that Vietcombank must pay Chuc VND700 million in compensation.

But both Chuc and Vietcombank contested the court’s decision, with Chuc arguing that the compensation money was insufficient, while Vietcombank demanded that the court refuse all of Chuc’s demands.

Prosecutors in April then said there was insufficient evidence to determine whether Vietcombank was at fault for Chuc being swindled out of VND11.9 billion.

A new appeal trial opened Friday, but Chuc requested the trial be delayed, and her motion was approved by the court.

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