Phone scam results in death of woman in China

A photo of Ms Xu Yuyu, and her university acceptance letter. She had received a phone call telling her to go to an ATM to receive her student loan. The scammer asked her to transfer 9,900 yuan (S$2,000) in "activation fees" to another bank account an
A photo of Ms Xu Yuyu, and her university acceptance letter. She had received a phone call telling her to go to an ATM to receive her student loan. The scammer asked her to transfer 9,900 yuan (S$2,000) in "activation fees" to another bank account and said her loan would then be transferred to her account.PHOTO: TWITTER ACCOUNT OF PEOPLE'S DAILY

3 nabbed, 3 others on the run; 18-year-old from poor family suffered sudden heart attack

BEIJING • Three men have been arrested for their role in a telecommunications scam linked to the death of an 18-year-old student.

According to ThePaper.cn, three other suspects are on the run.

The student, Ms Xu Yuyu, came from a poor family in Linyi city in Shandong province, and was enrolled at the Nanjing University of Posts and Telecommunications, reported Beijing News.

She received a phone call on Friday last week directing her to go to an ATM to receive her student loan.

Ms Xu did not doubt the veracity of the call, as the local education bureau had contacted her a day earlier to say that her loan would be issued shortly.

The scammer asked Ms Xu to transfer 9,900 yuan (S$2,000) in "activation fees" to another bank account and promised that her loan would be transferred to her account within half an hour, reported Chinese media.

After discovering they had been cheated, her family immediately reported the incident to the police, but Ms Xu was said to be devastated

On the way home from the police station on Sunday, she fainted. Doctors said she suffered a sudden heart attack.

Her family depends solely on her father's income and had saved for almost a year to raise funds for her tuition fees.

"She never misspent her money and always saved what little she had," said Madam Li Ziyun, Ms Xu's mother. "The scammer has taken my baby girl."

Ms Xu's class adviser Pan Baojian told China Daily: "She was outgoing, well-mannered and always on top of her studies. It is a shame she died this early."

Ms Xu's death triggered an uproar in traditional Chinese media and social media. The Education Ministry as well as the police warned students and their parents to be vigilant and not fall for similar scams. The number of such cases has been rising as the college admission season gets under way.

The ministry said students should first check with their teachers and the local education authority before making any payment.

In another fraud case, Ms Li Xiaqin, a sophomore at Shandong Agriculture and Engineering University, received a call last Friday informing her that she was involved in a case of money laundering and needed to transfer money to prove her innocence.

Ms Li, who is from Linyi, wired 6,800 yuan to the bank account provided by the caller.

According to an agent who provides student information, personal data like phone numbers can be collected easily and sold for as low as one fen (a fifth of a cent) a student, Qilu Evening News reports.

Six people were jailed recently for selling the personal data of two million students and parents, Beijing Times reported on Thursday.

China has seen an explosion in telecoms scam cases in recent years. The authorities in eastern Zhejiang province reported that they handled more than 100,000 cases of telecoms fraud, resulting in a net loss of 1.5 billion yuan, last year - up 40 per cent from the previous year.

CHINA DAILY/ ASIA NEWS NETWORK

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 27, 2016, with the headline 'Phone scam results in death of student'. Print Edition | Subscribe