Why is the VIA scam market bustling in Vietnam?

The Facebooker community in Vietnam uses the term VIA, which refers to real accounts hacked and used by others to run ads or do anything else on Facebook.

It’s unclear how the concept originated. But it is clear that it is used only in Vietnam. If searching for ‘VIA’ on any search engine, one will receive results in Vietnamese language.

Why is the VIA scam market bustling in Vietnam?

VIA is understood as ‘verified information accounts’, which means accounts verified by Facebook. This means that users' information has been verified by Facebook. There is information on registered mobile phones, ID cards and other personal documents.

VIA is used for different purposes. Previously, VIA was used by scammers to fool people into transferring money to them, appropriate scratch cards, and increase interactions for posts.

If someone complains that their blue check mark (indicating that it has been verified) has been hacked, it may have actually been turned into a VIA for scammers to exploit.

Nowadays, VIA is used to run ads. The demand for VIA for this purpose is high from those who want to escape policy violations and boost sales via Facebook, especially in the Covid-19 period.

The typical characteristic of these VIAs is that while the real owners of the accounts use Facebook as usual, scammers appropriating the accounts are running ads quietly. In other words, these VIAs have at least two owners.

It is easy for a blue check mark to become a VIA. In addition to the usual ways of password exposure, the granting of the right to access apps and the participation in divination games can also lead to a risk of token exposure, which leads to the loss of the right to control Facebook accounts.

Another risk comes from accepting cookies and exposing this information. Cookies remember browser information so that users don't have to enter their passwords every time they log in.

 

With the use of revealed, shared or weak passwords, and the lack of attention to personal information security, Vietnamese Facebook users could be a VIA of someone else.

Facebook has to regularly create checkpoints which ask users to confirm unusual activities on their verified accounts and tell them to change passwords as well as log out of all devices.

Many Facebook accounts can be the targets of scammers.

The VIA market in Vietnam is bustling, with ‘commodities’ from Asia to Europe, from old to newly set up accounts.

With only several thousand to tens of thousands of dong, one can buy a VIA with an advertised ‘lifetime warranty’. 

Phuong Nguyen

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