GUANGZHOU: A spike in an increasingly popular fraud scheme has struck this major port city, and authorities are pointing the finger at foreigners for the scams.
Eight foreigners have gone on trial for the so-called black-money scam in Guangzhou Intermediate People's Court in the first six months of the year.
That caseload is equal to the number of black-money scam cases heard by the same court between 2002-2008, according to court officials.
Guangzhou, known for its robust foreign trade in south China with a population of approximately 7.5 million, has more than 20,000 foreigners registered as residents, according to sources with the Guangzhou public security authority.
In a black-money scam, a con artist procures money from a victim by duping the person into believing that banknote-sized papers are actual paper currency dyed black to evade customs in their country of origin.
But through a chemical wash, the black paper can be turned into money. The victim is persuaded to pay for the chemicals to wash the black paper.
The eight black-money scam cases were among 11 frauds allegedly committed by foreigners that were heard by the court this year. The court said that the defendants were from nine countries, mostly in Africa.
The local court said frauds committed by foreigners in Guangzhou so far this year accounted for more than one-third of the total between 2002 and last year, but they did not release the exact number of cases.
"The black-money scam has become one of the major crimes committed by foreign suspects," said Li Zhongyuan, a press official with the Guangzhou Intermediate People's Court.