Conman in China gains elderly victims' trust by eavesdropping on their phone conversations

A conman in China's south-western city of Chongqing cheated elderly people by first eavesdropping on his targets' phone conversations, then using the information he gleaned to "borrow" money from the victims, Chongqing Times has reported.

One of the victims, Mr Dai, had just arrived in Chongqing last Friday (Dec 2) and thought the man he met at the railway station was a friend of his son-in-law's.

He even lent him 1,000 yuan (S$207) to buy an air ticket.

The man, a professional scammer, had gained Mr Dai's trust because he knew Mr Dai's son-in-law's name.

He told Mr Dai that his mobile phone was running out of battery, and borrowed Mr Dai's phone to make calls to the son-in-law, who was on his way to pick Mr Dai up.

In fact, the conman had overheard Mr Dai's phone conversation with his son-in-law earlier, and peeked at his screen to get the latter's name.

Using the excuse that his own phone was low on power, he then pretended to have conversations with Mr Dai's son-in-law using Mr Dai's phone when he had actually turned the phone to airplane mode.

He then told Mr Dai that his son-in-law had asked him to buy an air ticket, but he had no cash on him.

After pocketing 1,000 yuan from Mr Dai, he went away, supposedly to buy the ticket.

Mr Dai only realised he had been cheated when his son-in-law arrived. They then made a police report.

Using Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) footage, police located the conman the next day.

The suspect, a 38-year-old man surnamed Gong, has reportedly cheated a total of nine people, and made about 10,000 yuan.