Fraud figures remain high in 1st quarter

Swindling ranks second among all recorded crimes, according to SPP

Procuratorates nationwide approved the arrest of 10,923 people on suspicion of fraud in the first quarter of this year, ranking second on the list of all recorded crimes, according to the Supreme People's Procuratorate.

They also initiated public lawsuits against 18,146 people involved in fraud in the quarter, ranking fifth among prosecuted crimes, it said.

The form of fraud crimes is constantly changing, and in addition to telecom network fraud and financial fraud, new types of fraud involving pensions, medical insurance and investing in art continue to emerge, affecting the public's sense of gain, happiness and security, the SPP said.

Some fraudsters pretend to provide "pension services" and investment in "elderly-care projects" to target the elderly, it added.

In one case from May 2016, a man surnamed Fang in Handan, Hebei province, pretended to be a pension director, claiming to be able to handle pension insurance for people without work.

He defrauded hundreds of people totaling about 3.7 million yuan ($535,000). He did pay out to some victims a total of 784,000 yuan in the name of "pensions "and "living expenses", but the rest was used for himself.

The SPP said that more than half of the prosecuted fraud cases were well-organized and committed by multiple offenders. Fraud gangs have a clear division of labor, and some set up specialized companies under the cover of a so-called legal company, and they rent high-end office buildings and use a network platform for publicity and recruitment.

Prosecutors found that fraudsters used means such as the telephone, the internet, artificial intelligence, big data analysis and others to commit fraud, as traditional cash transactions are gradually changing to online banking and payment platforms.

Fraud in the network environment often spreads fast and involves a wide range of victims, yet the cost of crime is low and fraud can easily be copied by other criminals. All of these make the cost of case handling higher and prevention more difficult, said the SPP.

Procuratorial organs have closely worked with public security organs to form a long-term cooperation mechanism in the joint crackdown, information exchange and evidence gathering. Procuratorates have also strengthened cooperation with functional departments of finance, telecommunications and market supervision as well as internet enterprises, and have promoted the formation of a systematic joint force to curb cybercrimes, the SPP added.