Ninety-one people involved in an international telecom scam were given prison sentences ranging from 18 months to eight years for fraud, a Beijing court ruled yesterday.
The convicts, including 59 women, were members of a ring that operated out of 106 locations in China, Indonesia, Cambodia, Philippines, Vietnam, Thailand, Laos, Malaysia and Singapore. They were convicted of stealing money over the phone between March and June 2011. The oldest convicted was 55 years old and the youngest was 20.
The ring, led by two Taiwanese, targeted people from both China's mainland and Taiwan. The ring members called the victims randomly through a special calling system that could make their call display as if it were a number belonging to the police, procuratorate or court on the victims' phones.
They convinced the victims to leak their personal and bank information by pretending to be employees of China Telecom or local judicial personnel who were "kindly" informing the victims that they had unpaid telephone bills, credit card debts or their bank accounts were unsafe and they were involved in a criminal case, officials said.
After that, the victims were induced to dial their identity number, bank account and password to transfer their money into a "safe" account via online or telephone banking.
The ring stole 220 million yuan (US$35.3 million) from March to June 2011. The victims were mostly retired. A woman in southwest Chongqing City had the biggest loss, nearly 4 million yuan.