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Saturday, October 1, 2016, 15:36

Telecom scammers to face harsher punishment

By Cao Yin

China's top court on Friday asked all judges to severely punish those perpetrating fraud through use of telecom or network technology, following the deaths of two students who were swindled in August.

The number of residents scammed by telecom fraudsters has been growing rapidly in recent years, "which not only brings economic losses to them, but also makes them unsafe", said Wang Ling, a spokesperson for the Supreme People's Court.

Wang did not release the precise number of fraud cases heard, but in March the top court said thousands of fraud-related disputes were filed and tackled in courts last year.

In September, the Ministry of Public Security said the number of telecom scams had risen to 600,000 in 2015 from 100,000 in 2011.

"We've highlighted the fight against fraud and asked all courts to speed up hearing related cases this year, especially after two young people in Linyi, Shandong province, died after being swindled," Wang said.

Xu Yuyu, 18, who was about to enter college in Linyi, died of a heart attack after she was cheated out of 9,900 yuan ($1,490) in a call, officials said. The money she lost was what her financially strapped family had raised for her tuition.

Later, Song Zhenning, another college student in the province, died from cardiac arrest, five days after being swindled out of 2,000 yuan, which represented his living expense at the college for three months, according to officials.

Scammers have "seriously harmed people's interests and State security, which can and should be heavily punished in line with Chinese Criminal Law," said Xie Kaihong, spokesman of the Fujian Provincial High People's Court.

Since 2014, courts in Fujian have received 1,663 fraud-related disputes involving 3,484 offenders, of which 1,553 cases have been concluded and 3,356 have been punished, according to Xie.

From January to August of this year, the provincial courts have handed down a sentence or fine to 895 people for fraud, he said.

An Fengde, spokesman of the Beijing High People's Court, said the court issued a guideline for municipal courts on sentencing telecom fraudsters.

"Organizers or leaders of a telecom scam gang and will get heavier penalties, while people who illegally purchase, provide or obtain residents' personal information will be also strictly handled, according to our guideline," An said.

In criminal law, people guilty of fraud are to receive punishment up to a life sentence when the amount of money involved is "extremely large", or their offenses lead to "extremely serious results".

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