More than 1,200 fraud suspects are handed over to Chinese law enforcement officials on Sept 6 in Pu'er, Yunnan province. (Photo/CHINA DAILY)
Report notes rise of crime groups run overseas targeting Chinese citizens
The number of prosecuted telecom fraud cases and associated crimes skyrocketed from January to October, and the prosecution of such crimes will keep rising, according to a report issued by the Supreme People's Procuratorate on Thursday.
Efforts to combat telecom fraudsters, particularly those with operations overseas, have intensified in China. In the first 10 months of the year there was an increase of nearly 52 percent in national procuratorial prosecutions, with over 34,000 individuals involved.
The recent crackdown on transnational telecom fraud groups has led to the mass apprehension and repatriation of individuals engaged in fraudulent activities abroad. Consequently, it is expected that the number of prosecutions for telecom and online fraud cases will continue to rise in the coming months, it said.
While the prosecution of the crime of aiding online criminal activities remains high, the rate of increase has gradually slowed. From January to October, national procuratorial authorities filed charges against over 115,000 individuals for such crimes, up nearly 13 percent year-on-year, with the growth rate declining by 2.2 percentage points year-on-year.
The slowdown is partly attributed to administrative penalties imposed for actions such as renting or selling bank cards. The trend of simple rental or sale of bank cards has diminished, replaced by practices requiring face verification during card transactions, often falling under the category of concealing and disguising illicit gains, it said.
The report highlighted that the prosecution of offenses related to concealing and disguising illicit gains has seen a significant surge, becoming the second-largest associated crime with telecom fraud, following the crime of aiding online criminal activities.
From January to October, national procuratorial authorities filed charges against over 104,000 individuals for concealing offenses, a year-on-year increase of nearly 80 percent. The behavior of selling cards and using facial recognition verification has gradually become mainstream. Some of the behaviors that were originally targeted as crimes of aiding online criminal activities have been reclassified as crimes of concealment.
Law enforcement authorities have intensified efforts to pursue assets and mitigate losses, resulting in increased control over asset transfers, also contributing to the surge, it said.
In the prosecution of individuals involved in telecom fraud, aiding online criminal activities, and concealing illicit gains offenses from January to October, individuals under 25 years old accounted for 31 percent, those with high school or lower education constituted 85 percent, and unemployed individuals represented 53 percent, it said.
Students and recent graduates are gradually becoming targets for recruitment by criminal groups, leading to an increase in the number of juvenile offenders. From January to October, individuals aged 16 to 22 accounted for approximately 20 percent, including a 68 percent year-on-year increase in the number of juvenile offenders, in telecom fraud, aiding online criminal activities, and concealing illicit gains offenses.
The report pointed out that some minors have even taken on leadership roles within telecom fraud organizations, highlighting the concerning infiltration of such crimes into younger demographics.
The prosecution of crimes hindering national border management has rapidly increased, emerging as a prevalent charge associated with telecom fraud offenses. As domestic crackdown efforts intensify, fraud groups are increasingly relocating abroad, organizing and recruiting individuals domestically to participate in crimes by illegally crossing national borders, it said.
From January to October, over 17,000 individuals were prosecuted for illegal border crossing, marking a 5.3 percent year-on-year increase. Charges for organizing others to illegally cross borders increased by nearly 16 percent, with charges for transporting others across borders rising by almost 75 percent.
The report noted that the traditional model of scattered, independent fraud groups is diminishing, giving way to large-scale criminal organizations using cover identities such as "industrial parks" or "technology parks". These large criminal organizations, often based overseas, control and manage independent fraud groups, forming expansive and stable networks for fraud.
In addition to individual telecom fraud crimes, these organizations engage in severe crimes such as human trafficking, kidnapping and illegal detention, resulting in terrible violations of citizens' personal rights.
The report said that procuratorial authorities have actively engaged in public interest litigation efforts, focusing on the protection of personal information in key industries, the management of bank and SIM cards, and the fulfillment of anti-fraud obligations by businesses. They consistently maintain a "zero tolerance" attitude toward and impose severe legal penalties for coercion, instigation, inducement, and deception leading minors to participate in telecom fraud and related crimes.
The SPP will further enhance international law enforcement and judicial cooperation, aiming to rigorously combat overseas fraud groups, including organizers, leaders, backers and core members, as well as those providing assistance in people smuggling, fund laundering, technical services, criminal venues and management services, according to the report.
The SPP will also intensify efforts to recover losses and assets, and collaborate with public security departments and courts, ensuring a comprehensive approach to asset recovery and loss mitigation.