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Online and telephone fraud rises sharply in China

Online and telephone fraud in China


Law enforcement officials in China and surrounding regions have reported a surge in online and telephone fraud by criminals who, with a powerful mix of technological and psychological savvy, pose as Chinese officials and cheat people of their life savings.

中国及周边地区的执法官员披露,犯罪分子实施的在线和电话诈骗案件数量激增。这些犯罪分子高明地运用科技和心理手段,假扮成中国官员,骗取了民众毕生的积蓄。

 

People like Chen Yue.  Ms. Chen's nightmare began in early August, when she answered a call on her mobile phone in Beijing. It was just before 9 a.m. and Ms. Chen, 29, a public relations executive originally from the central city of Wuhan, was about to leave for work. She had recently returned from a vacation in Europe, for which she had dug into her savings. She had just over 200,000 renminbi, or about $31,000, in her bank account.

受害人陈越就是一例。今年8月初,来自中部城市武汉的陈越在北京用手机接起一通电话后,她的噩梦就开始了。当时将近早上9点,这位29岁的公关部门主管,正要出门上班。此前,她刚刚在欧洲度假,花掉了一些积蓄。她的账户里有20多万元的存款。

 

From the moment she answered the call from a woman who said she was with the Wuhan police and whose number, displayed on Ms. Chen's phone, contained that region's area code, Ms. Chen entered a vortex of deception that only ended four hours and many calls later, after she had transferred all her money to the fraudsters. Everyone she interacted with, she said in a tearful interview at a Beijing cafe, was convincing in style and language.

自从她接到那个自称供职于武汉公安机关的女性打来的电话——陈越手机上显示的主叫号码还有那里的区号——陈越就陷入了一场骗局之中。四个小时内打过许多个电话之后,她把自己的全部存款转给了骗子。在北京一家咖啡馆里流着泪接受采访时,她说,与她交流的每一个人言谈举止都显得十分可信。

 

"I was blind," Ms. Chen said.

"我简直瞎眼了。"陈越说。

 

"Now, my money is gone," she said. "I had to borrow money from friends just to pay the rent this month and to survive. I don't think I'll ever be able to save that much up again, as Beijing has become so expensive."

"现在我的钱全没了。"她说。"我得跟朋友借钱,才能付这个月的房租,才能活下去。我想我再不可能存到那么多钱了,北京变得实在太贵了。"

 

The woman who called Ms. Chen said that the police in Guiyang, the capital of the southwest province of Guizhou, suspected Ms. Chen of being part of a money-laundering gang operating out of the city. Because Ms. Chen's hukou, or residence permit, was for Wuhan, the woman said, she was calling on behalf of the Guiyang police.

打电话给陈越的女人声称,贵州省会贵阳的警方怀疑,陈越是一个在贵阳活动的洗钱集团的成员。这个女人说,陈越的户口在武汉,她是代表贵阳警方打这通电话的。

 

Befuddled, Ms. Chen believed her. The woman and her associates seemed to know so much about her: Her full name. Her hukou details. Her phone number. Her date and place of birth.

不知所措的陈越相信了她。因为这个女人与她的同伙似乎对她知之甚详:知道她的全名、户口细节、电话号码,还有生日与出生地。

 

And they were intimidating, issuing instructions in a way that many Chinese, believing they are dealing with the police and reluctant to challenge their authority, might find difficult to resist: Turn on your computer. Don't call anyone. Don't answer the door. This is top secret.

而且他们发号施令的架势令人生畏,对许多相信他们在和警方打交道,又不敢质疑其权威的中国人来说,这可能很难抗拒:打开你的电脑、不许联系任何人、别去应门、这是最高机密。

 

The police in mainland China and Hong Kong say this kind of fraud has risen sharply.

中国内地与香港警方表示,此类诈骗案急剧增加。

 

In 2011, the Chinese Ministry of Public Security recorded about 100,000 cases of online or telephone fraud, but in 2014, that number jumped to about 400,000, according to Chinanews.com, a state-run news site. Losses in such cases on the Chinese mainland amounted to 10.7 billion renminbi in 2014, it reported.

2011年,中国公安部立案了10万起网络和电信诈骗案,不过根据官方媒体中新网的报道,在2014年,此类案件数蹿升至40万起。该报道称,2014年,在中国内地因为这些诈骗案损失的金额高达107亿元人民币。

 

At the end of July, the police in Hong Kong reported that the area had "a significant increase" this year in the kind of "pretend mainland official" scam that netted Ms. Chen.

7月末,香港警方通报称,该地区今年"假冒内地官员"这类诈骗"有明显的升幅"。让陈越上当的就是这种骗局。

 

In the case of Ms. Chen, the callers told her to go to a website that they said belonged to China's top prosecutor. It was a forgery, though its address was similar to the real one. She followed a link on the site, as they ordered, and discovered what appeared to be a warrant for her arrest that included hard-to-get personal details.

在陈越被骗一案中,打电话的人让她登陆一个网站,并称该网站属于中国最高人民检察院。那个网站是假的,不过它的网址和真的有相似之处。在对方的命令下点击了网站上的一个链接后,她看到的似乎是对自己发出的逮捕令,上面还有不易得到的个人详细信息。

 

In what seems to be a common chain of events, the fraudsters told Ms. Chen that she could "prove" that the money in her bank account was not from illicit funds if she transferred the money to them for examination. She was in serious trouble, they said, and this was the only way she could clear her name.

在看上去像是一连串普通事件的过程中,骗子告诉陈越,如果把钱转给他们,让他们检查,她就能证明自己银行账户里的钱不是非法所得。他们说她遇到了大麻烦,并且这是她唯一能证明自己清白的办法。

 

So she did as they said. Her account was empty. The criminals hung up. Ms. Chen began to collect her emotions — And to grow suspicious.

于是,她就按他们说的做了。她的账户空了。犯罪分子挂断了电话。陈越开始整理思绪,并起了疑心。

 

She telephoned the Beijing police, who told her to go to a special fraud unit in the city's Dongcheng district. There, the police told her that she had certainly been the victim of a crime – and that there was no way to recover her money.

她给北京警方打电话,对方让她去东城区一个专门负责诈骗案件的部门。在那里,警方对她说,她肯定是被骗了,并表示没办法把钱追回来。

 

"They said that only once they get 'this many' cases" — she held up a thumb and index finger about an inch apart — "could they do anything about it." There was little they could do anyway, the police said, as the criminals were thought to be overseas, operating from Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.

"他们说除非接到'这么多'案子,否则他们什么都做不了,"她一边说一边伸出了大拇指和食指,两个手指头之间有大约1英寸(约合2.5厘米)的距离。警方说,不管怎样,他们几乎做不了什么,因为犯罪分子可能身在海外,在日本和韩国活动。

 

Police investigators in the Philippines say the gangs are operating there, as well as in Cambodia, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and even as far as Kenya — places largely out of the reach of Chinese law enforcement officers.

菲律宾的警方调查人员表示,有些诈骗团伙的活动地点在该国,还有很多则分布在柬埔寨、印度尼西亚、泰国、越南,乃至肯尼亚。这些地方大多不在中国执法人员的抓捕范围内。

 

Ms. Chen said the police had advised victims not to demand that a case be opened. In China, asking for the police to open a criminal investigation is noted in a person's "dang'an," the personal file held by the authorities that accompanies an individual through life.

陈越说,警方建议受害人别要求立案。在中国,要求警方展开刑事调查会被记入"档案"。档案是一种个人文件,掌握在当局手里,会伴随一个人的一生。

 

"The police told the girl next to me at the station, 'You don't want that in your file, do you?' " Ms. Chen recounted. "They said, 'It's so hard to find a job these days.' "

"在派出所,警方对我旁边那个姑娘说,'你不希望档案里出现这个对吧?'"陈越回忆道。"他们说,'现在找工作这么难。'"

 

The implication was that the file would indicate a lack of intelligence, that one is easily duped or a troublemaker, and that no one would want to hire a person like that.

警察是在暗示,档案里有这样的记录表示一个人不聪明,容易上当或惹是生非,没人想雇佣这样的人。

 

This week, Ms. Chen asked the police again to take down the fake websites posted by the fraudsters that display her personal information.

近日,陈越再次要求警方关闭骗子公布的假网站,那上面显示着她的个人信息。

 

"I called the officer handling my case yesterday," she said on Tuesday. "He said he can't do anything about it, because it's registered overseas."

"我给昨天处理我案子的那个警察打电话。"她说。"他说他什么都做不了,因为网站是在海外注册的。"

2016-06-23

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