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Authorities stepping up cybercrime crackdown

By YANG ZEKUN | CHINA DAILY | Updated: 2021-04-12 08:47
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Xi tasks regulators with implementing control measures to curb online fraud

Judicial and law enforcement departments have stepped up a crackdown on cybercrimes following a significant increase in cases last year.

Across China, 141,870 people suspected of cybercrimes, including those committed through the internet and telecommunications channels, were prosecuted last year, a year-on-year increase of 47.9 percent, according to the latest data from the Supreme People's Procuratorate.

Online fraud and gambling accounted for 64.4 percent of cases.

Police cracked 322,000 cases of telecommunications and online fraud last year, arresting 361,000 suspects, data from the Ministry of Public Security showed.

It said 1.6 million fraudulent websites were blocked and 11,000 gangs were busted for crimes that made use of telephones or bank cards.

Losses of at least 187.6 billion yuan ($28.7 billion) involving 8.7 million potential victims were averted as a result.

Courts nationwide concluded 33,000 cybercrime cases last year, including ones related to fraud, pyramid schemes, gambling and slander.

On Friday, President Xi Jinping called for full implementation of crackdown, prevention, regulation and control measures to resolutely curb telecommunications and online fraud, urging the regulators of sectors including finance, telecommunications, and the internet to shoulder primary responsibilities.

He also stressed the need to improve the system of laws, public awareness and international cooperation to eliminate the high incidences of such crimes and make new and greater contributions to ushering in a new stage in building a peaceful China and rule of law.

Judicial and law enforcement agencies have encountered many new types of scams in recent years as criminals have exploited the development of internet technologies.

Figures from the top procuratorate showed that the number of cybercrime cases committed through overseas communication platforms and the darknet increased by 70 percent year-on-year in 2020, with the number of people going overseas to commit cybercrimes more than double that in 2019.

People involved in cybercrimes were generally young, with low education levels and low incomes, it said. Among those prosecuted for cybercrimes last year, 90 percent had a high school education or below, and 67 percent were unemployed. The number of juvenile suspects rose 35.1 percent year-on-year.

The elderly and the young were more likely to become the victims of cybercrimes, it said.

The top procuratorate said criminals often impersonated officials from procuratorates, courts and public security organs, pretended to make friends with or offer refunds to people, or offered to increase credit card limits to commit fraud.

Cases of laundering money for online gambling platforms, illegally collecting people's personal information and disrupting online market order through malicious click farming were also prominent, it said.

Cybercrimes usually had a relatively fixed division of criminal labor, it said, with different groups responsible for offering technical support, collecting people's personal information, committing fraud or running casinos and laundering the money received.

The top procuratorate said about a quarter of online fraud cases precisely targeted certain groups. Criminals used people's personal information to analyze the psychological characteristics of the targets and fabricated customized fraud scenarios to lure victims.

Procuratorates prosecuted 6,033 people last year for infringing on people's personal information. Another 14,700 people were brought to trial for crimes such as illegally using information networks and offering assistance to criminal activities in such networks.

The top procuratorate established a group to provide research and guidance on punishing cybercrimes and safeguarding cybersecurity last year, and the group has formulated 65 standards for investigating and charging suspects with cybercrimes.

The Supreme People's Procuratorate has also stepped up efforts to bust financial crimes, online slander and the illegal buying or selling of bank cards and mobile phone cards, and it has worked with related departments to improve internet governance.

The Ministry of Public Security and the Cyberspace Administration of China have launched a big data platform, an app and a fraud alert hotline to intercept and block fraudulent content. A total of 140 million phone calls and 870 million text messages involved in fraudulent activities have been intercepted.

The country's central bank and telecommunications regulators and operators have also launched special campaigns to plug loopholes and rectify malpractice to address fraud at its source.

The ministry said big data analysis will be applied, regulations will be tightened and special campaigns will be launched to crack down on criminal rings that sell personal data, develop fraudulent websites and create financial channels for money laundering.

It said police nationwide had arrested more than 5,900 suspects and seized over 134,000 phone and bank cards from October to April 2, effectively cracking down on telecommunications network fraud at the source.

Xinhua contributed to this story.

Number of people prosecuted for cybercrimes CHINA DAILY



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