China fights Internet, telecoms scams

BEIJING • Six Chinese agencies yesterday announced a coordinated effort to tackle Internet and telecoms fraud in the government's latest bid to get to grips with an explosion of such crimes that it says have led to huge financial losses.

Police registered 590,000 telecoms fraud cases last year, up from about 100,000 in 2011, leading to losses of 22.2 billion yuan (S$4.5 billion), state media said. Callers often impersonate officials or authority figures and prey on the elderly, students and the unemployed, tricking the victims into transferring money to the fraudsters' accounts.

China's Supreme Court, its top prosecutor, the Ministry of Public Security, the central bank, the Ministry of Industry of Information Technology and the China Banking Regulatory Commission issued a joint statement vowing to crack down on the scams.

"Telecoms and Internet fraud crimes seriously impact the people's legal interests, destroy social harmony and stability, and must be resolutely punished under law," said the statement on the Public Security Ministry's website.

By the end of October, the agencies must enforce real-name registration for all phone accounts, the agencies said. Renting, lending or selling bank or payment accounts would be a crime, the statement said.

Banks would also soon take a longer time to process money transfers between two different account holders made via the Automated Teller Machine. The new measure will kick in on Dec 1.

The scams targeting the Chinese have even spread worldwide, with Chinese speakers recruited in Taiwan increasingly setting up operations in East Africa and South-east Asia.

REUTERS, XINHUA

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 24, 2016, with the headline 'China fights Internet, telecoms scams'. Print Edition | Subscribe