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Nation to fight text message, Internet fraud
Updated: 2004-06-02 00:50

China has kicked off a two-month campaign to fight fraud by cell phone text messages or via Internet, hoping to curb the new form of crime in the fast-advanced information society.

Zhang Xinfeng, assistant minister of public security, said hereTuesday at a teleconference that mobile phones and the Internet have become the most extensively used channels for exchanging information over recent years, but they are also used by some cheaters to send false messages for fraud, which has disturbed many people's normal life and violated their legal rights.

"Defrauders usually register a cell phone number with a fake name, and then send false messages to a mass of cell phone users, telling them they have won prizes in a lottery or they are offeredvery cheap smuggled goods," Zhang said.

"Common people are easy to be hoodwinked by so-called prizes orgoods, usually color TVs, laptops or millions of cash. If they contact defrauders, the latter usually ask them to remit money to appointed bank accounts for paying taxes, postage or insurance charges," Zhang acknowledged.

He said people who have been scammed range from workers, farmers and intellectuals to government officials, with the money cheated worth from thousands to millions of yuan. Some are defrauded of all their deposits and some even misappropriate public funds to pay swindlers.

Such fraud crimes first originated in east China's Fujian province, and have spread rapidly to elsewhere in China, includingGuangdong, Hubei, Zhejiang, Hunan and Jiangxi provinces, in recentyears.

Statistics show that Fujian police have cracked 155 related cases in the past two months, seizing 147 suspects and a block of cell phone and bank cards.

"Criminals even write in text messages to offer phony diplomas and certificates, fake money, invoices and various types of guns. Some have shifted to new ways of fraud by the Internet, such as fabricating an online auction," Zhang said.

Large quantities of cheating messages also cause frequent jams in communication networks, which has affected the normal use of mobile phones and people's daily contact, he said.

Moreover, he reminded the information industry department to step up supervision not only on text messages but also on phone number registrations, and urged it to block junk messages with special technologies.

The financial department should intensify supervision over the opening of bank accounts and other related sectors should firmly crack down on criminal rings making fake certificates, diplomas and invoices, said the assistant minister.

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