Suspects caught in alleged mall membership fraud

Chen Huizhi
Police said suspects allegedly developed software that sends SMS messages to random mobile phone numbers from a given number without the knowledge of the number's owner.
Chen Huizhi
Suspects caught in alleged mall membership fraud
Ti Gong

Suspects are apprehended from Jiangsu Province and the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

Four suspects have been apprehended for allegedly developing and selling software that enables people to register for membership at a local shopping mall with any mobile phone number, Shanghai police said on Wednesday.

The shopping mall, in Wujiaochang in Yangpu District, offers parking discounts to members.

District police began an investigation after the mall received complaints from several people who said they were registered as mall members even though they had never been there.

As part of the alleged membership registration fraud, license plate numbers were also registered. 

Owners of the registered cars told police they registered themselves as new members at the mall through a mobile app. After paying 10 (1.5 US cents) to 20 cents through the app, they could get a random mobile phone number from an unknown person and a verification code sent to the number.

The app took advantage of a loophole in the mall's computer system to send SMS messages from its call center to any mobile phone number.

The mall lost more than 370,000 yuan in parking fees in 2020, according to police.

The suspects caught in Jiangsu Province and the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region are said to have confessed that they had made over 100,000 yuan through the app.

People who illegally used the app to register members at the mall will also face punishment, police said.

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