Chinese court jails 57 members of fraud ring over online dating scam
Defendants, many of whom were related, jailed for up to 11 years for targeting people with fake profiles on online dating sites
Fifty-seven members of a fraud ring – many of them members of the same family – have been jailed by a court in eastern China for an array of scams, local media has reported.
For years the group had been running a pyramid scheme but because it was not making enough money they switched to online romance fraud in 2015, Modern Express reported on Wednesday.
All the members of the ring – no matter what their age or sex – pretended to be single young women to scam men looking for girlfriends online.
On Monday a court in Suqian, Jiangsu province, found the group guilty of committing more than 140 cases of fraud involving more than 1 million yuan (US$146,700), the report said.
They were sentenced to between six months and 11 years in prison and fined between 200,000 and 30 million yuan.
The court said it was the case with the largest number of victims and defendants it had handled in recent years.
The newspaper report gave details of two of the defendants, one of whom, a man named Chen, had targeted a Suqian man using fake pictures.
The victim, surnamed Liu, had struck up an friendship with what he believed was a young woman on the messaging app WeChat.
This fake girlfriend promised to pay Liu a visit, but then pretended to have broken “her” mobile phone and been involved in a traffic accident before asking for 7,000 yuan to cover the cost of these mishaps.
However, Liu became suspicious and contacted police, which was the trigger for the investigation that broke the gang.
Another defendant, surnamed Mao, was quoted as confessing to using a variety of fake profiles to target victims.
The report said he had boasted of his success in befriending “difficult targets” on online dating sites and was so adept that many of his victims had struggled to believe their “girlfriends” turned out to be a man.