Telecom scammers cheat victims out of thousands of yuan

Source:Global Times Published: 2016-1-24 19:43:01

Nine suspects are tried at Daxing district court in Beijing in 2014 for telecom-based frauds. Photo: CFP

 Have you ever  received messages like "large sum of money for a baby" and "family needs emergency treatment, please help?" If you have, you've probably ignored them as obvious scams. However, these schemes have enriched villagers living in Shixi, East China's Jiangxi Province.

Telecom fraud is a growing crime in China. Police have dealt with 16,708 such cases, apprehended 5,825 suspects and busted 927 gangs since a campaign targeting new types of telecom fraud was launched on October 30, 2015.

China's security chief Meng Jianzhu called for collaboration among departments and other countries to crack down on telecom fraud at a conference Thursday, according to a politics and law-related public WeChat account. 

Buying a baby

It is hard for people that know her to imagine that Li Shufang (pseudonym), a 27-year-old 150 centimeter-tall mother- of-three, had another identity: a beautiful, rich and slender lady.

Using a soft and tender voice, she has seduced several men, trying to scam money out of their pockets via the phone. She was arrested by local police for defrauding people by pretending to be a wealthy, beautiful woman looking to pay a man to impregnate her, a common telecom scam.

A cellphone which can change a caller's voice, a script and a bank card was all she needed. "All these only cost 200 yuan ($30)," she told China Newsweek, adding that she learnt about this scam from an advertisement she saw posted in her village looking for "apprentices." She said after calling the number on the ad, all her tools were quickly delivered by a young man. 

Li first spent 500 yuan to deliver texts to thousands of phones which read "I am a 30-year-old 165 centimeter-tall woman. I am pale, beautiful and attractive. After marrying a rich businessman in Hong Kong who is infertile, I am seeking a considerate, healthy and honorable man to get me pregnant. Please call me. If I am satisfied, I will first give you 300,000 yuan. If I get pregnant, I will give you another 1.5 million yuan."  

Li said that she was nervous at first but became skilled after talking to several people. She would ask men to give her around 300 yuan first to show their sincerity and then ask for more and more money, saying that she needed it to buy clothes and jewelry, pay rent, and cover legal fees. To convince the victim, she also pretended to be a lawyer.

"They believed me when I said a bunch of words. [They fell into her trap] because they are too greedy," said Li, who said she doesn't care about who her victims are. Li defrauded nearly 200,000 yuan from victims in Anhui, Jiangsu and Yunnan provinces between January and November 2015, local police said.

Complete chain

In Shixi, such a complete scam business chain has formed. A local police officer told the weekly that "some were responsible for posting advertisements, some were in charge of making phone calls while some deposited money."

Over 360 people in Shixi and nearby villages have been detained for telecom fraud since 2010 and the victims were from over 20 provinces and regions.

Local people were also found pretending to be doctors and scamming money from people after convincing them that their relatives needed emergency treatment due to serious illness.

Police said that they cracked down on a ring in December 2015 involving over 500 suspects and 12 million yuan.

According to a report from Internet security company Qihu 360, over 40,000 swindlers live in South China's Hainan Province, accounting for 30 percent of the country's scammers. The province ranked first and was followed by the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and Fujian Province.

It reflects a typical social norm, said Liu Yuanju, a research fellow at Shanghai Institute Of Finance And Law. "When someone does well, other people in the area will follow him [and form a regional business chain]," he said.

China Newsweek
Newspaper headline: Liar on the line

Posted in: Society

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