Suspect in money-launder fraud 'a victim herself'

A 20-year-old college student fell victim to a fraud and unknowingly became a predator.

Fraudsters are coming up with more complex ruses to trick people out of their money. And in a recent case, the go-between, a female college student studying in Guangzhou City, turned out to have been a victim herself, police said.

Police in Huangpu District started their investigation in late August after the son of a retired woman surnamed Lang reported that a young woman who claimed to be working for police in Changsha City, Hunan Province, had came to his mother’s home on August 21 and had taken 98,000 yuan (US$14,200).

Lang said she had received a call from a man who claimed to be a police officer in Changsha on August 20 who told her she was a suspect in a money-laundering case. The “police officer” told her that his colleague would visit with a warrant for her arrest the next day.

The “colleague” arrived with the “warrant” and took the money from her in cash and bank cards. Lang was told by the fraudster to keep her “case” to herself, but she told her son after the fraudster called again to ask for more money.

The young woman, surnamed Xie, 20, was tracked down to Guangzhou, and was apprehended in September as she was about to fly to Shanghai to target another victim.

Xie told police she had at first thought she was assisting Changsha police in investigating cases and only later realized she had taken part in a fraud.

Xie said she had herself received a call from a “police officer” in Changsha in early August who claimed that she was involved in a money-laundering case, and had transferred 40,000 yuan to his bank account.

She was then told to “help” an old woman living in Shanghai who was a suspect in a similar case, and was given 5,000 yuan to perform the task. She was also given a “working pass” indicating her identity as an “assistant officer” of Changsha criminal police with a promise that she would be eventually hired to work for Changsha police, police said.

Xie said she transferred Lang’s money to a bank account as required by the “police officer,” who she is still in contact with. Xie is now in detention for fraud, and an investigation is under way.

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