61 detained for "superstition" telecom fraud in Hunan

Source: Xinhua| 2018-02-02 18:19:22|Editor: Lifang
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CHANGSHA, Feb. 2 (Xinhua) -- Police in central China's Hunan Province have detained 61 suspects in connection to a telecom fraud case "related to superstition."

Police in Changsha, the provincial capital, received information that a resident surnamed Tian had been tricked out of his money in late 2017.

According to police, from May last year, Tian, 54, was told by a self-proclaimed feng shui practitioner, online and via telephone, to buy expensive pixiu charm bracelets and dragon-headed turtle statues, to "accumulate merits." Tian spent more than 7,000 yuan (1,116 U.S. dollars).

In China, many feng shui practitioners believe that auspicious symbols such as pixiu, a Chinese mythical hybrid creature, can bring wealth, while dragon-headed turtles, known as longgui, can help promotion, because the name is a homonym for "a glorious return" in Chinese.

Feng shui, which literally means "wind and water" and involves the study of geomantic omens, the auspicious location of items of buildings, has been widely practised in China for thousands of years, but it has been observed by the public as superstition rather than recognized as a cultural phenomenon.

Investigation showed that a large gang was behind the case. The gang had set up a company in the southern metropolis of Guangzhou and targeted people across the country. They encouraged believers who had hit rock bottom in their careers or had difficulties in their lives to buy special auspicious items from their website at high prices.

With the help of Guangzhou police, Changsha police caught the suspects in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong Province, confiscating bank cards, computers, and servers.

The number of victims in the case exceeded 4,000, and the value involved topped 13 million yuan, police said.

Further investigation is under way.

China has tightened a crackdown on telecom and Internet fraud. In May 2016, the Supreme People's Procuratorate issued a circular urging procuratorates at all levels to tighten crackdowns on telecom and Internet fraud.

Last year, seven people were sentenced to prison in east China's Shandong Province for involvement in a telecom fraud case linked to the death of a teenager.

Xu Yuyu, a high school graduate from Linyi, died of cardiac arrest in August 2016 after being defrauded out of 9,900 yuan, which she had intended to use to pay university tuition fees.