Chinese security authority warns of espionage traps in online dating and job hunting
Published: Mar 13, 2024 01:18 PM
spy Photo: VCG

spy Photo: VCG

Are they your like-minded "online friends"? Intimate "lovers"? Caring "friends"? Helpful "good Samaritans"? Or perhaps, these are all just sweet "traps" set by espionage forces, Chinese Ministry of State Security warned the public in its latest article published on Wednesday.

The ministry listed several cases adapted from real life incidents with characters using pseudonyms in the article released on its official WeChat account.

A sophomore student Liu in a coastal city in southern China met a woman named Xiao Min through a social networking app. After a few days of chatting, their relationship quickly escalated. 

During this time, the "thoughtful" Xiao Min actively introduced Liu to a part-time job at a magazine, which involved taking photos of tourists and yachts at the local port, with a reward of hundreds of yuan for each shift. 

Liu thought it was a win-win situation as he could earn extra money and win Xiao Min's heart, so he gladly accepted. He took photos of the seaside and yachts at the scenic area and sent them to Xiao Min, receiving the agreed-upon payment on time. Later on, Xiao Min further requested Liu to take photos of the arrival and departure of military ships at a designated location, and asked him to switch to using overseas communication apps and use "code words" to contact her. 

After several times working together, Xiao Min bought Liu a phone and an electric scooter for photography, and even covered the rent for a place near a military base.

In fact, Liu had already realized Xiao Min's spy identity, but he was still blinded by greed and wishful thinking. 

The national security agency quickly discovered and stopped Liu's illegal activities. Due to the timely intervention that prevented serious harm, the national security agency did not pursue criminal charges against Liu, but his own academy and life were still severely affected.

In another case, as graduation season approached, a student Wang from a university posted his job search information on a mobile job-seeking app. Soon, a "Director Zhang" from an investigation company contacted him. Initially, Zhang claimed to be conducting marine environmental surveys and asked Wang to take photos of yachts and ships at sea, offering generous money. Later on, he gradually guided Wang to go toward military-sensitive areas to take photos of military aircraft and ships. 

This request raised Wang's suspicions and alertness, prompting him to immediately cease contact with the other party and report the incident to the national security agency through the 12339 hotline, accompanied by a teacher.

It was confirmed that "Director Zhang" was indeed a member of a foreign intelligence agency. Afterward, the national security agency commended and rewarded Wang for his proactive reporting. The incident was publicly reported by the media, causing a widespread impact on society.

The national security agency warns that foreign spy intelligence agency personnel may use methods such as making friends through "romantic relationships" or online job hunting to ask people to collect documents, distribute surveys, or take photos of landscapes and buildings under the guise of legitimate activities for them, using lucrative rewards as bait. 

Once they obtain this information, foreign intelligence agencies may use threats, enticements, or blackmail to exert control over people, making them difficult to escape easily.

"If you notice suspicious behavior of others collecting confidential or sensitive information through various channels, please report it to the national security agency through the 12339 hotline, the online reporting platform, the agency's official WeChat account, or directly to the local national security agency," said the Ministry of State Security.

Global Times