Police officers escort telecommunications fraud suspects from a charted plane arriving from Laos at the Zhengzhou Xinzheng International Airport in Henan Province on September 11, 2023. (Photo: Li Hao/GT)
China's Ministry of Public Security has started to solicit public opinions on punishment measures for telecom fraud perpetrators, media reported on Monday, a day after Chinese police offered a cash reward for information related to four telecom fraud ringleaders in northern Myanmar.
Experts noted that the move is expected to reverse rampant telecom scams by increasing the cost of offenses and posing as a long-term warning to lawbreakers.
The draft contains 19 clauses covering six aspects, including disciplinary principles, disciplinary subjects and disciplinary measures that assure the implementation of the law in combating telecom and online fraud, which were enacted in 2022 to provide strong legal support for fighting crime and safeguarding people's property rights and interests.
People who will be punished by the draft measures include individuals who have been criminally punished for engaging in telecommunications fraud, or assisting in cybercrime related to telecommunications fraud, disrupting credit card management, infringing upon citizens' personal information, concealing and hiding criminal proceeds and gains, as well as organizing others to illegally cross national borders.
People who have engaged in the illegal buying, selling, renting, lending of SIM cards, IoT cards, landline phones, telecom lines, SMS gateways, bank accounts, payment accounts, digital RMB wallets, internet accounts, domain names, IP addresses and other items may also be punished based on the severity of the violations.
The draft measures may include suspending bank accounts and suspending communication services, such as SIM cards and IP addresses.
On Sunday, Chinese police offered a cash reward of 100,000 to 500,000 yuan ($13,700 to $68,500) for information related to four key ringleaders of a telecom fraud syndicate in the Kokang region of northern Myanmar that targets Chinese citizens. The four suspects have not only been involved in the long-term organization and operation of fraudulent crime dens, but are also suspected of engaging in serious violent crimes, including homicide, intentional injury and illegal detention.
In 2023, the Chinese public security department has been stepping up efforts to combat telecom and online fraud. Since August, the number of telecom and online fraud cases and the number of property losses have dropped by 24 percent and 20.5 percent year-on-year, respectively, Wang Zhizhong, vice minister of public security, said at a news conference in late October.
According to Zhu Wei, a vice director at the Communication Law Research Center at the China University of Political Science and Law, combating telecom and online fraud is a kind of ecological governance that doesn't just focus on a single issue, but a series of crimes that cannot be solved by a single criminal law, which is the background of the joint disciplinary measures.
Considering telecom and online fraud cases that usually involve a large number of offenders, the joint disciplinary measures combine punishment and warnings, such as setting up blacklist mechanisms, to serve as a long-term warning and increase the cost of their offenses, Zhu told the Global Times on Monday.
According to the draft, the measures will follow the principles of legal recognition, proportionate punishment and dynamic management, and clarify that both individuals and entities will be subject to disciplinary action. The draft also specifies the measures for disciplinary action through finance, telecommunications and network and credit means.
Additionally, the measures apply disciplinary actions based on a graded classification of illegal behaviors and standardize procedures such as review and determination, disciplinary periods and notification.
The disciplinary measures adhere to the principles of graded punishment and proportionality, specifying that individuals held accountable for criminal liability over telecom and online fraud and related crimes will be subject to a disciplinary period of three years.
While offenders are hit with comprehensive financial, telecommunications and network and credit disciplinary measures, and their information is incorporated into a basic financial credit information database, their basic financial and communication services are still retained. This ensures that their essential living needs are met, ensuring that disciplinary actions are appropriate.