Man prevented to be cheated by 'British female soldier'
A 66-year-old man who lives in Minhang District was talked out of paying money for "gifts" from a "British female soldier" by seven police officers.
The man's daughter reported the case to police in Minhang District on October 31, police said on Monday.
The man, surnamed Chen, had been in communication with a "British female soldier" on WeChat for some time when the latter offered to send him some gifts from overseas. However, Chen was told to pay 8,500 yuan (US$1,332) to a third party, allegedly for the clearance of the gifts at customs.
Chen was short about 2,000 yuan for the payment and sought help from his daughter, who sensed fraud.
Internet fraud, where self-proclaimed "foreign soldiers" defraud people who make friends with them online, is not rare.
Officers at the Duhang Police Station soon found Chen and spent three hours talking him out of being scammed.
"None of your business"
Tang Chun, a police officer at the station who is in charge of the anti-fraud department, was one of the seven officers who tried to persuade Chen not to fall into the trap.
In Chen's case, the trap was carefully woven by the fraudsters.
"Chen said he communicated with the English-speaking female soldier via machine translation, and he received two pictures of some garments and an expensive Rolex watch which he was told were gifts for him," he said.
To explain the fraud, the police contacted a logistics company and brought Chen to a bank to show him that the clearance fees for customs goods are never paid to unknown private accounts, but it was not enough.
"He insisted that the police prove that the bank account he was offered to pay the clearance fee belongs to a fraudster, but the police were not able to launch such an investigation without filing a case," Tang said.
Chen finally hesitated when he was unable to get the detailed account information from the third person to whom the "clearance fee" was supposed to be paid, as required by the bank. Bank cards used in Internet fraud, Tang said, are usually illegally acquired.
During later police visits, Chen claimed that he didn't pay the money to the unknown person and had deleted the "British woman soldier."
The hardest thing in persuading a potential fraud victim is that they sometimes decline goodwill efforts from the police.
"In this case, Chen told us that it was none of our business, even if it turned out to be a fraud, and his daughter, out of bitterness, also said that it would help if her father learned the hard way," Tang said. "But as police officers we always try our best to prevent victims from being scammed."