Hanoi (VNA) - Police in Hanoi’s Hoang Mai district said on August 21 they had issued decisions to start legal proceedings against and detain four suspects for allegedly engaging in a wire fraud scheme seeking to profit from the COVID-19 pandemic.

They face charges of “appropriation of property using a computer network, telecommunications network, or electronic device.”

The decision has been transferred to the district’s People’s Procuracy for approval.

The four suspects are Nguyen Duy Toan and Phan Dinh Thu, both 33 and from Dong Son district, Thanh Hoa province, Tran Quoc Khanh, 36, from Hoang Mai district, and Do Chi Huy, 27, from Dak Lak province. Toan is accused of being the mastermind behind the fraud.

In May, the Ministry of Public Security and the US’s Homeland Security Investigation (HSI) began a joint probe into a gang of Vietnamese who created 110 e-commerce websites that fraudulently offered medical products much sought-after during the pandemic, such as face masks, hand sanitiser, and toilet paper.

About 7,000 American victims had attempted to purchase these items from the websites. They made payments through e-wallets but never received the goods. The transactions are estimated to total around 975,000 USD.

In a search of the suspects’ apartment in Linh Dam in Hoang Mai, police seized seven computer cases, three desktops, two laptops, and documents relating to their criminal activities./.