Shanghai police step up crackdown on telecom frauds

Police said they have started to freeze suspicious bank accounts with no funds deposited in them so as to prevent them from being used by scammers later.

A total of 405 bank accounts suspected to be related to telecom and Internet fraud were frozen in the first two months of this year, Shanghai police said on Wednesday.

Fan Hua, a police officer from Shanghai Telecommunications and Online Fraud Squad, said police have started to freeze suspicious bank accounts with no funds deposited in them, at a rate five times higher than the same period last year.

“In some previous cases, we found that such accounts were used by scammers later to defraud other people,” he said.

Meanwhile, more effort have been invested in educating people about scams so that they don't fall victim.

Fan said the squad detects some 2,000 suspicious phone calls from scammers every day, up from 100 when the squad was launched in March of 2016. 

The most prevalent type of scam is those in which scammers claim to be law enforcement officers, company executives or customer service staff.

“We found that women from 45 to 65 years old are the easiest prey for fake law enforcement officers,” Fan said.

When the squad manages to determine the identity of a potential victim on the receiving end of a suspicious call, it will immediately inform district police officers to react.

If available, patrolling police officers will be sent to talk to the receiver of the call, with community police officers and resident committee officials following up.

“The task of the patrolling officers is to disrupt the communication on the phone, while people with whom residents are probably more familiar are in a better position to dissuade them,” said Huang Yi, a police officer of Shanghai's Public Security Management Squad.

Huang said police officers go through regular training to deal with such situations at the telecommunications and online fraud squad.

To address the growing trend in telecommunication scams, police around the city have embarked on educational programs for different groups, including college students, company accountants and the retired.

Special Reports