At the trial (Photo: VNA)

Ben Tre (VNA) – Four days into the first instance trial, the People’s Court in the Mekong Delta province of Ben Tre gave Malaysian national Chong Ngai Fong and his six accomplices a total of 48 years in prison for their fraudulent activities using fake ATM cards.

The court ruled that the defendants were to be imprisoned for the appropriation of property using electronic device in line with Point a, Clause 4, Article 290 under the 2015 Penal Code.

According to the court’s decision, Chong Ngai Fong (44) was sentenced to 14 years’ imprisonment. Jo Pham (48, a US national) and David Tee Cheng Meng (30, from Malaysia) each got nine years in jail. Nguyen Kim Soan (21, residing in Bac Lieu province), and Tran The Bao and Nguyen Van Hien (26 and 22, both from Ben Tre) each received a seven year sentence. Meanwhile, Chua Ya Thiam (45, from Singapore) ended up with just two years.

They all have to hand over more than 1.7 billion VND (72,896 USD) as compensation to branches of the Vietnam Bank for Agriculture and Rural Development (Agribank) in Can Tho city, Ben Tre, Vinh Long, and Ca Mau provinces, and Phu Nhuan district in Ho Chi Minh City.

Following their jail terms, Chong Ngai Fong, Jo Pham, David Tee Cheng Meng, and Chua Ya Thiam will be deported from Vietnam.

According to the indictment of the Ben Tre People’s Procuracy, between November 2017 and March 5, 2018, the group’s mastermind Chong collaborated with Jo Pham, David Tee Cheng Meng, Bao, Hien, and Soan, taking it in turns to install electronic devices that stole information of hundreds of accounts at several ATMs run by Agribank branches. Using these accounts, they made fake ATM cards and withdrew over 1.7 billion VND.

On January 24, 2018, Ben Tre police received reports from different banks on 38 card holders, who lost a total of 998 million VND (42,778 USD). Their money was stolen by criminals with highly technological skills. The investigation led to a group of seven, residing in different areas but working together to produce fake ATM cards.

On March 5, 2018, the police organised a raid to hunt down Bao and Soan, whose confessions helped to capture the remaining members of the gang. –VNA