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Swindlers use cell phone messages
Updated: 2004-06-17 09:03

The largest such case in Shanghai's history involved 350,000 yuan.

With the number of fraud cases involving mobile phone messages on the rise, police are advising locals to be suspicious of SMS notices claiming you have won a lottery or offering to sell goods at very low prices.

According to local authorities, during the first five months of this year, they accepted 33 such cases and received more than 1,000 online reports about fraud cases worth a combined 590,000 yuan (US$71,084).

First alerted in 2001, city police have placed 307 message swindle cases on file for investigation so far.

Police officials say the criminal schemes are rather simple: The suspects usually use fake ID cards or borrow ID cards from migrant workers by paying them 30 to 50 yuan to open bank accounts. Victims get deceitful messages, claiming the receivers have won prizes and asking them to deposit money into certain accounts for postage, tax or service charges ranging from several hundred yuan to several thousand yuan.

To obtain the fraudulent profits, suspects first call the banks for confirmation of payment and then go to other cities to withdraw the money at ATMs which are not installed with surveillance cameras.

Swindlers, who are mainly from the south of China, such as Fujian and Guangdong provinces, have ripped off people in 25 provinces and municipalities throughout the country and the sum of illegal money is up to 3.04 million yuan, police added.

A local citizen identified as Ying was the victim of the biggest message fraud case ever in the city.

In May, 2001, Ying was reportedly tricked out of 350,000 yuan because he was promised a second-hand sedan.

Worrying about the rising trend of such crimes, city authorities are taking measures to curb the message source as well as begging citizens not to be trapped by such a scheme.

Suspects allegedly buy many SIM cards at a time and spread fake trading messages through a one-to-many system.

The illegal system originated in Guangdong Province can store 2 million mobile phone numbers at a time.

Connected with cables to one computer, four cell phones send messages automatically every two to five seconds.

Thus one mobile phone can send 40,000 messages a day and the number of messages spread through one computer within a day is up to 120,000, police alleged.

To make up for the lack of legal basis, city authorities have issued stricter rules to regulate the purchase of SIM cards.

Purchasers must provide the original of their ID cards if they want to buy SIM cards at local outlets, local media reported.

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