Business travelers seduced by 'fake females'
Shanghai police have cracked down a gang alleged to have used fake female accounts and seductive photos to cheat men on a mobile app.
Ten suspects have been held, including three ringleaders who have been arrested, police said on Thursday.
The app named Qu Zhu, literally "fun stay," has over 400,000 registered users, mainly male business travelers, who paid some 650,000 yuan (US$101,725) to chat with "women."
The suspects are said to have created more than 10,000 fake female accounts with pictures downloaded from the Internet.
Police said two suspects surnamed Zou and Chen in Nanjing in Jiangsu Province had been operating the app since August 2018.
It claimed to be designed for business travelers wanting to socialize during their trips, police said.
Two days after media reports in April that the app was suspected of involvement in prostitution, the number of registrations increased by 104,000, and the amount of money paid to it exceeded 280,000 yuan, according to police.
If users wanted to comment or chat with the fake "female users," they needed to buy virtual coins or upgrade their accounts.
Users could buy "Dong Coin," the virtual currency that can be used on the platform, for one yuan for one Dong Coin. VIP memberships ranged from seven days to a year.
A VIP membership cost 698 yuan a year and private chat 10 yuan each time.
Despite the arrests, an online community related to the app on the Baidu Tieba platform, named Qu Zhu Ba, which is full of seductive female photos and videos, is still in operation.
Shanghai police have dissuaded thousands of potential victims and 100,000 reminder messages have been sent to residents so far in this year. More than 2,500 fraud cases have been tracked down by last week in Shanghai, according to police.