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31/03/2023 - 16:56

MoET urges schools to boost vigilance after spate of scams

In response to a spate of sophisticated scams targeting parents and students, the Vietnamese Ministry of Education and Training (MoET) has called on schools to increase their vigilance and strengthen their coordination with parents.

Parents wait for students outside the school gate of Nam Giang town's Primary School in Nam Truc district in northern Nam Dinh province.(Photo: VNA)

The ministry has also urged schools to urgently review their information security protocols for teachers and students to prevent further incidents.

The ministry has requested that schools encourage parents who have fallen victim to scams to report the incidents to the police for investigation promptly. The hope is that this will lead to appropriate action against those responsible for these crimes.

The latest move by the Vietnamese Ministry of Education and Training underscores the seriousness of the situation. It highlights the need for increased awareness and security measures in schools nationwide. 

On March 28, some individuals distributed free soft drinks and confectionery to students outside the gate of Nguyen Du Junior High School in Da Lat city. Despite the school's immediate intervention, two students still suffered from abdominal pain and had to be examined after consuming the food.

Earlier on March 24, a 12th-grade student from Phu Nhuan High School in HCM City was approached by a stranger while standing in front of the school gate. The stranger claimed to be a friend of the boy's father and offered him a ride to the hospital where his father had been hospitalised after a traffic accident.

On March 23, a parent of Kim Lien High School in Hanoi received a call from a stranger informing him that his child had incurred a debt of 5 million VND buying cosmetic products and demanding payment.

On March 22, 31 students of Ly Tu Trong Primary School in Dak Lak province were poisoned after receiving free balloons distributed by four strangers at the school gate.

On March 16, dozens of parents in Thai Nguyen province reported receiving a call from a stranger informing them that their child was in an emergency at the hospital and urgently needed money transferred for surgery and treatment costs.

This type of scam first appeared in Ho Chi Minh City in late February and has since spread to Hanoi and Da Nang. According to reports, scammers have collected over 1 billion VND (42,570 USD) using this method, with over 800 million VND (34,057 USD) in HCM City alone.

Following the initial property-appropriation scams in HCM City, the city’s Department of Education and Training promptly issued warnings to parents of students in schools.

Local education leaders acted swiftly after the occurrence of fraudulent activities in their localities.

Pham Xuan Tien, Deputy Director of Hanoi’s Department of Education and Training, emphasised the need to develop guidelines for handling issues related to students that occur during the learning process at school.

He added that the school and teachers are responsible for taking care of and supporting students until they are handed over to their parents. To prevent fraudulent activities, schools should remind students to stay calm and notify teachers or parents if they receive any messages or phone calls from strangers.

Tien also warned schools to avoid leaking personal information about students and urged them to review their information protection measures to prevent new scams.

Trinh Duy Trong from the HCM City Department of Education and Training stated that schools must publicise their hotline numbers on the department's web portal. He emphasised that homeroom teachers should be the ones to provide all information about students' learning and training at school.

The Division of Education and Training in Da Lat city asked schools to conduct regular checks in front of the gate and advise students never to accept food from strangers.

The Department of Education and Training in Dak Lak province warned parents and students about potential dangers outside of school gates.

Colonel Dao Trung Hieu, a criminology expert from the Ministry of Public Security, told Tuoi Tre (Youth) online newspaper that scammers obtain personal information about both parents and students to carry out fraud.

He said it is likely that the personal information of parents and students has been leaked, either accidentally or intentionally. Communication between schools and parents must be strengthened when such leaks are discovered.

Teachers should educate students on necessary skills and raise their vigilance to such tricks. Parents should supervise their children’s movement from home to school and vice versa to avoid unfortunate incidents.

In response to recent scams, authorities must issue warnings and legal advice to help people be more vigilant and take precautions, said an expert.

Duong Trong Phuc, Vice Principal of Ly Tu Trong Youth Union School in HCM City, also emphasised the need to increase penalties for information infringement to deter scammers.

Despite many scams, detection and handling have been limited, causing societal confusion and anxiety. Phuc said that mobile service providers should be responsible and penalties for information infringement violations should be increased.

The expert said frauds would be more sophisticated in the future, and people should be equipped with knowledge about the digital age, the ability to identify information and critical thinking to avoid being scammed.

Nguyen Huynh Bao Khanh, head of the criminology department of the Ho Chi Minh City University of Law, said the scams focused on causing panic among parents.

He also raised concern over school information security as scammers often possess very personal information about students.

Senior Colonel Nguyen Xuan Ha, deputy head of the People's Police College No 2’s Criminal Police Department, agreed that people fell into traps because they were overwhelmed by worry and anxiety.

Fraudulent groups have been using many sophisticated techniques to take advantage of people's panic and anxiety. Most phone calls occur during class time, making it difficult for parents to contact teachers and verify the information given in the phone calls.

Ha said parents should double-check the information from parents’ chat groups or contact the nearest police station to ask for help verifying information.

Ngo Xuan Diep, head of the University of Social Sciences and Humanities under the HCM City’s National University, advised parents to double-check the information from parent chat groups or contact the nearest police station for help in verifying information.

He also stressed the importance of teaching children skills to protect themselves from fraudsters.

While the authorities are responsible for ensuring safety in front of school gates, parents also have a crucial role.

They need to teach their children how to reject strangers and things from strangers, stay close to them, listen to them, and talk to them.

He said this will enable them to teach their children the necessary skills to avoid fraudulent and suspicious circumstances./.