Beijing prosecutors are warning residents about a scam that uses pay-on-delivery parcels, calling on people to double check the information of senders.
"Fraudsters were found to have sent deliveries at random in line with personal data they obtained through improper channels, and then required receivers to pay on delivery. The payment wasn't very high, and the contents inside were low-priced goods," said Chen Yutong, a prosecutor from the first branch of the Beijing People's Procuratorate.
"Many receivers paid for the deliveries, as some believed the parcels were sent by friends and some had forgotten what they had bought online," she said. "They didn't think too much, nor checked the senders' information before the payment, because the amount was small."
Chen introduced the latest swindle at a news conference on Monday, recalling a case solved by the capital's prosecutors.
Between May and June 2021, a man surnamed Zhang and his partner, surnamed Sun, then an employee of an express delivery company, randomly sent more than 170,000 parcels containing foot-bath products worth 2 yuan (27 cents) across the country, and the pay-on-delivery price for each package was 69 yuan.
According to the prosecutor, Zhang and Sun had bought over 100,000 pieces of personal information, including names, home addresses and mobile phone numbers, from two other people, and Zhang was also found to have purchased more than 200,000 pieces of personal data online.
They used the information to cheat consumers out of more than 300,000 yuan.
Zhang and Sun were later sentenced to seven years and six years in prison, respectively, for infringing upon personal information and fraud by the Haidian District People's Court, the prosecutor said.
She added that the two people who sold the personal data to the fraudsters were also convicted of infringing upon personal information, and each was given a prison term of three years.
As online shopping has become a way of life, many items are paid for by consumers through the internet, "so we need to pay special attention to parcels requiring payment on delivery, especially small packages demanding micropayments, which are probably fraud traps", she said.
She suggested residents check with senders when receiving pay-on-delivery packages.
"If you find anything abnormal, it's best to refuse to pay the money and call the police in a timely manner," she added.
Last year, a total of 1,179 people were charged with fraud-related crimes across the capital, according to Du Miao, a prosecutor from the procuratorate.
"While working with public security agencies to regulate the handling of fraud-related cases, we've also focused more on taking advantage of technologies to find and fight fraud from the root," he added.