Police nab suspected telecom scam accomplices

Chen Huizhi
Recruited suspects were paid 500 yuan for every bank card successfully applied for, say police, who explain that the cards were used to launder ill-gotten money.
Chen Huizhi

Thirty-four suspects have been caught for allegedly providing bank cards to telecom scammers, Shanghai police said on Wednesday.

Police in the Pudong New Area discovered the matter when investigating a telecom fraud case in March, and eight major suspects were caught on March 30.

The suspects allegedly recruited people on the Internet to apply for new bank cards and then provided the cards to serve fraud activities of the scammers.

Each person recruited was paid 500 yuan (US$70) for every bank card successfully applied for; in some cases individuals applied for 10 cards.

The recruited people were then confined to hotels in Shanghai or in remote border areas in southwest Yunnan Province, where they were told to do face scans in case that their bank cards were frozen by the banks due to abnormal transactions, or simply kept under monitoring so they couldn’t appropriate the spoils of fraud in their accounts, police said.

A total of 25 such people have been apprehended so far, and they could face charges of assisting telecom and Internet crimes as they were either fully aware of the usage of the bank cards or should have been aware of the criminal intent, according to police.

Their cards were allegedly used to process millions of yuan obtained through fraud. Chinese law stipulates that any person whose bank card had a money transfer record of over 200,000 yuan to assist telecom and Internet crime should face criminal charges.

Yang Hui, an official with the criminal case investigation squad of the Sanlin Police Department of Pudong police, said the crackdown on such assistants to telecom scammers is significant to curbing telecom frauds.

“Telecom scammers often operate their scams from foreign countries, and to get the money from their victims, they inevitably need supplies of local bank accounts for money funneling or laundering,” he said. “Cracking down on the card suppliers helps increase the cost of criminal activities for perpetrators.”

China has restricted the number of bank cards available to users. From December, 2016, one person can only possess one debit card with the function of depositing money at one bank.

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