HANOI (AFP) - Three Russian fraudsters, including one who tried to escape prison using a spoon and a toothbrush to dig a tunnel, have been jailed in Vietnam for using fake ATM cards to steal US$13,400 (S$18,250).
The men, aged between 30 and 43, were detained last October pending trial when one of them made a last-ditch attempt to flee. "He was discovered by the jailor while trying to dig a hole from the room," using a toothbrush and a spoon, according to an online report from Ho Chi Minh City's official law newspaper.
The men were each jailed for six years for making fake bank cards and stealing from cash machines in southern Ho Chi Minh City and Khanh Hoa province.
The would-be escapee was given an extra six months for the attempted jail break.
The men confessed to their crime and were sentenced on Wednesday in Khanh Hoa after a one-day trial, a court clerk told AFP, without providing further details.
According to the legal newspaper, the trio arrived in Vietnam in mid-October and were arrested later that month while they were withdrawing money from an ATM in Khanh Hoa.
Earlier this week, two Turkish men were jailed in a separate case for five years each in Ho Chi Minh City on a similar charges after also stealing about US$13,400 dollars using 130 fake ATM cards originating from Turkey, state-run Tuoi Tre newspaper reported.
Police in the communist country say cybercrime by both Vietnamese and foreign thieves is on the rise.
In nearby Thailand, the police are also hunting for ATM hackers who made off with US$346,000 by inserting cards installed with malware into multiple cash machines run by Thailand's state-run Government Savings Bank (GSB) in late July.
The Thai authorities have issued an arrest warrant for one Russian man who they believe belonged to a gang of foreign criminals behind the theft.