Law enforcement authorities have busted 14 gangs who are suspected of running scams targeting seniors around China that are thought to involve around 730 million yuan ($106 million) in total.
The Ministry of Public Security (MPS) has ordered police nationwide to crack down on scams targeting seniors, which resulted in the arrest of 204 people suspected of being involved in such scams, including one in which fraudsters told senior citizens that if they gave the scammers money, they would help in uncovering treasures buried by wealthy people in the past and profit from their "investment," the Xinhua News Agency reported Tuesday.
Xinhua reported that since October 2016, the MPS has organized special divisions to clamp down on fraud in 14 Chinese cities, located in South China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, and East China's provinces of Anhui and Shandong.
The suspects are accused of using social media platforms including instant messaging applications WeChat and QQ to lure people in. The scammers in these cases often fabricated fake government documents to convince their elderly victims, said Xinhua.
One victim, Shandong resident Wang Juan, told the Global Times Tuesday that the swindler who contacted him claimed to be an employee of a government body named "China's National Condition Assistance Committee." The scammer promised that the committee would provide "investors" with 100,000 to 150,000 yuan as a subsidy if they fall sick, as long as they are willing to pay in money regularly. Wang said that she was tricked into handing over around 10,000 yuan.
In the past few days, public security bureaus across China have repeatedly warned against these kinds of scams. Beijing police said elderly people were told to congregate outside the capital's landmark National Stadium, or Bird's Nest, on Monday and Tuesday to collect 50,000 yuan each as a return on a 10 yuan investment. Police said a "large" number of seniors came to the stadium from all around the country. Police detained 31 suspects involved in the scam, the Ministry of Public Security announced Sunday.