China / Society

Even China's tech billionaires not safe from phone scams

(Xinhua) Updated: 2016-04-28 08:46

BEIJING -- Today's cell phone scammers are so wily that even tech tycoons risk being taken in.

Lei Jun, the billionaire chairman and CEO of Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi, took to Chinese microblogging site Sina Weibo on Tuesday to complain that he was "almost tricked" by a phishing text message.

His post showed screenshots of phishing messages he received over the past month. Phishing scams are designed to deceive a recipient into handing over sensitive information, usually by impersonating a legitimate business.

"Text message scams are so rampant. I just received another one. Everybody be careful!" Lei wrote.

"Dear customer, your mobile banking service will expire tomorrow. Please log on to [the site] for verification," said a message sent on Tuesday.

Lei has more than 13 million Weibo followers, and his previous posts focused on Xiaomi and other tech news. The rare complaint from a tech celebrity about the widespread scams has drawn thousands of replies and "likes" from social media users.

"I have a friend who was cheated out of 200,000 yuan ($30,800)," one Weibo user wrote.

Others asked whether the IT mogul could do anything to stop the fraudulent messages.

"Mr. Lei, can you make a smartphone that can detect all these scams?" microblogger "C Luoxuan" asked.

Lei's tech peers used the opportunity to make fun of his bad luck and promote their own brands.

"When it comes to detecting phishing messages, 360 is the expert. Mr. Lei should communicate with us more often," wrote Zhou Hongyi, chairman of Qihoo 360, an Internet security company known for its antivirus software.

"I suggest you switch to Huawei smartphones, and these scams won't bother you any more," said product manager Li Xiaolong from Huawei Technologies, one of Xiaomi's rival phone makers.

Phishing text messages and phone scams have long plagued Chinese smartphone users. They continue to swindle billions of yuan from victims every year.

In a recent case, 62 people were arrested for cheating mobile phone users out of 117 million yuan in southwest China's Guizhou Province. It is believed to be the biggest telecom fraud case China has ever seen.

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