‘We won’t break the law again’: residents of ‘fraud’ villages vow to stay out of trouble

Authorities crack down on two communities on the banks of the Xin River in eastern China infamous for telecoms scams

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 25 May, 2016, 3:37pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 16 January, 2018, 3:44pm

Authorities in eastern China have made thousands of residents of two “fraud villages” sign pledges to stay on the right side of the law after a crackdown on telecoms scams.

Shixi and Tuanlin on the banks of the Xin River in Jiangxi province have long been infamous as a hotbed for phone rackets. One of the most notorious scams involved appeals by “rich” women claiming they would pay for help in conceiving so they could inherit family fortunes.

Police in Yugan county created a task force – replete with drone assistance – to carry out sweeps in the villages following an instruction by the Ministry of Public Security to crack down on seven key types of crimes last year.

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Ninety per cent of 59 fraud suspects had been apprehended, according to the Chengdu Economic Daily. Police also seized an undisclosed number of computers, mobile phones, bank cards and signal transmitters. Officers searched half of all households and found nearly 500 yokes and spears, five crossbows, as well as dozens of helmets and protective vests.

More than 5,200 residents signed a letter promising to steer clear of scams and other crimes. Slogans and banners urging people to work hard and abide by the law have been placed around the villages.

Village chiefs have acknowledged they faced obstacles in establishing a viable economic base and said their current priority was to track down remaining phone fraud suspects and maintain social stability.

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The villages are known throughout the mainland as the source of advertisements featuring attractive women along with a telephone number promising payments for sperm “donations”. The adverts claim the woman and her husband are trying to inherit family assets but the man is infertile and cannot produce an heir. A payment is promised for anyone who can help the woman conceive.

Some adverts claim the woman’s personal information has been notarised and that she has retained a lawyer to assist with the transaction.

Some scams go even further, with woman villagers calling men who expressed an interest and convincing them to transfer tens of thousands of yuan for a “cheque withdrawing fee”. But after receiving money, the contact would stop.