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100 people sentenced in Beijing for defrauding elderly

By CAO YIN | | Updated: 2022-08-04 16:58
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One hundred people received prison terms and fines for defrauding the elderly in Beijing on Thursday amid the capital's intensified efforts to fight fraud-related crimes.

Defendants in 15 separate cases were given sentences ranging from eight months to life imprisonment by the capital's eight courts for committing the offenses, which included fundraising fraud and bilking people out of their savings, according to a statement from the Beijing High People's Court.

The defendants returned more than 11 million yuan ($1.6 million) to victims, the statement said.

"Many of the defendants cheated the elderly out of money by pretending to be travel agents, nursing home providers or healthcare product merchants," said Luo Yong, a judge from the high court's No 2 Criminal Division.

She told media that many of the criminals made use of the country's policies benefiting the elderly to lure them and gain their trust at first, and then forged nursing services and investment projects to cheat them.

Some had also used the promise of art sales to defraud seniors, Luo added.

Among the sentences handed down on Thursday, the Beijing Chaoyang District People's Court gave sentences ranging from 30 months to 12 and a half years to 14 defendants after they were found to have cheated about 160 people out of about 24 million yuan by lying about their ability to sell art works between January 2016 and April 2019.

Of the victims, more than 140 are over 60 years old, said Sun Jingkun, vice-president of the Chaoyang court.

The scammers would visit or call seniors, claiming they came from auction companies, and would either ask the victims if they had any art to sell, Sun explained. Then, the fraudsters would lie about having the ability to help the victims sell their works for high prices, and they would earn money by charging service fees.

The elderly are major targets of such fraud "because many senior citizens like collecting stamps, commemorative coins, calligraphy and paintings," he said, adding that some became physically or mentally ill after their financial losses.

Given the consequences of the fraud committed and the large amount of money involved, "we gave the defendants heavier punishment in line with the law," he said.

Sun Lingling, vice-president of the high court, said that courts citywide have attached importance to handling fraud-related cases involving the elderly since April, when a campaign in the field was launched across the nation.

"Dealing with such cases efficiently is essential, as they are tied to financial safety and social stability," she said. "Efforts made to fight fraud will help give residents a sense of security, fulfillment and happiness."

From April — when the fraud crackdown began — through Thursday, the capital's courts filed 60 fraud cases involving the elderly, of which 22 have been concluded, she added.

As the courts increase punishment for fraudsters and improve the efficiency of relevant case hearings, Sun suggested residents share clues and evidence with judges through an online reporting platform.

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