The Supreme People's Procuratorate and the Ministry of Public Security said on Tuesday they would strengthen joint supervision and handling of major cross-border online fraud cases to combat such crimes and domestic co-perpetrators.
To further expose the criminal means used by overseas fraud groups and domestic collaborators and reveal the new trend of cross-border online fraud, authorities will focus on dismantling criminal groups, disrupting criminal networks, and delving deep into organizers, leaders, and the hidden "masterminds" behind these crimes, according to the SPP and the ministry.
Zhang Xiaojin, head of the SPP's fourth procuratorial office, said that in recent years, recognizing the ongoing and complex challenge of online fraud, the SPP and the ministry intensified its cooperation efforts and established a mechanism for the routine supervision of major cases. These efforts have sent a strong signal of rigorous law enforcement and strict punishment in accordance with the law, yielding positive results.
The SPP and the ministry recently released five major cases under their routine supervision mechanism, he said.
One notable case involves an investigation by the police in Putian, Fujian province into the organization of illegal border crossings in September last year. During the investigation, it was discovered that an overseas fraud group, led by a man surnamed Tang, had set up a so-called technology company in Laos, specializing in carrying out online fraud activities targeting Chinese people.
The criminal group operated with a well-defined hierarchical structure and division of labor. They carried out fraud through online dating and inducing investment in virtual currencies. The total amount involved has been identified at more than 30 million yuan ($4.1 million), with about 150 people involved. The police have detained around 30 members of the group.
Cross-border online fraud continues to evolve along with information technologies, exhibiting new trends and characteristics, said an official from the ministry's criminal investigation bureau.
"The prevalence of scattered and independently operated overseas fraud groups is diminishing, giving way to larger criminal organizations operating under the guise of industrial parks and technology zones. Moreover, crimes stemming from fraud, such as human trafficking, kidnapping and illegal detention have become more severe and detrimental," he said.
As domestic crackdown efforts intensify, some criminal groups either gradually relocate their entire or partial operations abroad or make extensive use of overseas communication tools and fund transfer platforms with servers located overseas to evade investigation, he said.
According to the Ministry of Public Security, by strengthening international law enforcement cooperation in recent years, the ministry has utilized both multilateral and bilateral channels to dispatch working groups to various countries and regions in carrying out policing cooperation, leading to the dismantling of numerous fraud groups and the repatriation of a large number of suspects.
Considering the substantial number of individuals who once committed fraud overseas and remained at large, the ministry, based on preliminary investigation, has captured about 56,000 such suspects after their return to China since last year. Among them, 150 were fund sponsors for fraud groups, and 1,000 were traffickers involved in organizing illegal border crossings.
In addition, around 112,000 individuals involved in crimes associated with online fraud were detained, effectively severing the channels through which these domestic networks provide support to overseas fraud groups.
Zhang Xiaojin, the SPP official, said that in the process of handling cases, law enforcement departments have increased their collection of evidence and dug deep into the criminal evidence of overseas fraud groups and domestic collaborators, so as to punish criminals accurately and in a timely manner.
At present, the focus remains on key countries and regions as well as major cases, to bust cross-border online fraud and related violent crimes such as human trafficking, intentional injury and illegal detention. Additionally, efforts are being made to expose organized criminal groups that thrive abroad, he said.
Authorities have also improved the case filing and review mechanism for cross-border online fraud cases. They continue to monitor the effectiveness of the investigation, ensuring offenders receive the appropriate punishment and are deprived of the ability to repeat their crimes to the maximum extent possible, he said.