The appeal of plaintiff Tran Thi Chuc, 50, was heard at the appeal hearing at the Bac Ninh Provincial People’s Court on Tuesday and Wednesday.

The two defendants were Vietnam Technological and Commercial Joint-stock Bank (Techcombank) and Joint Stock Commercial Bank for Foreign Trade of Vietnam (Vietcombank).

The jury dismissed the plaintiff’s appeal and ruled that Techcombank did not have to reimburse any of the VND14.6 billion that Chuc alleged had been fraudulently debited from her account.

A similar decision was taken for an amount of VND 11.9 billion at Vietcombank.

According to the verdict, on April 22, 2022, Chuc went to a Vietcombank branch in Tu Son City in Bac Ninh to open an account.

Between April 22 and 24, she and her family members deposited a total of VND12 billion into that account.

On April 23, she visited a Techcombank office to open an account and deposited a total of VND 14.6 billion into her account.

On the morning of April 25, she checked both accounts at both banks and saw that there was nothing left in the Techcombank account, while the balance in the Vietcombank account was only VN100,000.

She immediately reported it to the police.

Chuc stated in her police report that in April 2022, she received phone calls from two people posing as police officers. They accused her of causing a traffic accident and of being involved in drug trafficking and money laundering.

They instructed her to open accounts at Techcombank and Vietcombank, where she transferred a total of more than VND 26.5 billion.

The so-called police also asked her to install security software to “prove the money was clean” and to use another phone to communicate with them via Viber. She did exactly as they told her.

Researchers later discovered that the software was capable of interfering, processing and modifying a variety of information, including the user’s location, history, contacts and messages.

Chuc subsequently filed a lawsuit against both banks for failing to provide guidance or advice on data security information, and for failing to report the issue. They also failed to directly request the central bank to work with other banks to prevent fraudulent money transfers.

She accused both banks of not sending her any notification about when the money was debited from her account.

During the preliminary trial in March, the Tu Son District Court ruled that the two banks must pay Chuc a total of VND1.5 trillion in damages, including VND700 million from Vietcombank.

Both the banks and Chuc appealed.

The appellate panel concluded that Chuc had followed instructions from two unknown individuals to open accounts, transfer money and install security software that compromised her banking information.

It ruled that this was Chuc’s fault, not the banks’.

“The terms and conditions of the registration service for providing authentication methods to individual customers clearly state that Vietcombank “shall not be liable for any damage caused by the customer disclosing his user name, password or authentication data for any reason; and shall not be liable if the customer uses software, materials or instructions not provided by Vietcombank,” the appeal ruling said.

After the two-day hearing, it was decided that Chuc will not receive any compensation and will have to pay approximately VND200 million in legal costs.

According to Chuc’s lawyer Le Ngoc Ha, Chuc would not have been exploited by fraudsters if bank employees had properly and sufficiently fulfilled their responsibilities in dealing with customers, advising on new account procedures, guiding safe account use, safeguarding information and warning of fraudulent tactics.

According to the lawyer, this behavior of the bank employees constituted a violation of at least two provisions of a government decree on administrative sanctions in the field of currency and banking: failure to inform users about the principles and scope of use of credit information products; and failure to inform customers about measures to ensure safety and information security when using banking services on the Internet.

Ha and Chuc said they would appeal to the Hanoi High Court.