Mainland police will try to pull the plug on phone fraud by joining hands with counterparts across Southeast Asia.
The move aims to remain on the tail of the criminal gangs that have moved overseas following a national crackdown in June, said Huang Zuyue, deputy director of the ministry's criminal investigation bureau.
"We're going to conduct joint actions against such trans-border crimes with police overseas," Huang said.
Money from such scams is often sent rapidly overseas through underground banks, making it more difficult to retrieve, he told a press conference.
Once the other countries get onboard, when mainland police seize suspects and find their leaders in another country, they will ask for help from their counterparts to arrest the leaders and smash the group.
Fraud cases through phone calls and text messages have been on the rise in recent years across the country. Criminals often hook their victims by claiming to be from banks or the police, tricking victims into calling fake numbers and giving their account details. Or, they will cheat the victims by telling them they have won prizes or even fake the kidnapping of their family members.
In the West, such practices are calling "phishing" and take place through both phones and spam e-mails.
Amid the rising fraud, the public security ministry launched a four-month campaign starting June 12. So far, police have broken up 277 gangs, seized 1,469 suspects and solved 4,386 telephone fraud cases.
More than 10,000 credit or debit cards and 30,000 mobile phone SIM cards have been confiscated, and more than 19 million yuan ($2.7 million) have been retrieved, according to figures released yesterday.
Huang said suspects are more likely to be from six counties in Hebei, Hubei, Hunan, Guangdong and Hainan provinces.
Elderly people and women are more likely to fall victim to the schemes because they lack relevant warnings as they read fewer newspapers and don't surf the Internet as much, he said.
A sample survey shows that about 70 percent of the victims are women and about 70 percent are elderly people.
And the scams, which originally targeted people on the wealthy east coast, are moving to central and inland regions.
Apart from trans-border crimes, new technologies via the Internet pose another major threat, Huang said.
More criminals are making use of VOIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) and online bank transactions, which are faster and more difficult to trace, he said.