WeChat, the popular Chinese communication app, has come under a ban in India. Photo: iStock

More than 50 people have appeared in a court in eastern China and were charged with offenses ranging from prostitution to fraud in an ongoing investigation, according to a report in the Paper.

The charges involved posing as prostitutes online and using fake profiles to fraudulently obtain money from more than 2,000 male victims across the country, according to information from the Yongjia Public Security Bureau in Wenzhou, Zhejiang province, in eastern China.

In October 2018, a man reported to the Yongjia public security police that he had become the victim of a scammer on WeChat, who promised to provide him with a sexual transaction.

He transferred a sum of money, but the sex worker he ordered and paid for never turned up. He was then threatened and asked to pay more fees such as a surety and health clearance, resulting in a total loss of 6,000 yuan.

During an investigation, Zhejiang authorities discovered numerous similar cases and identified 472 suspects, who allegedly used fake WeChat accounts to offer prostitution services or to help people launder money involving more than five million yuan. Authorities froze 1,304 bank accounts.

According to investigations, five main suspects from Guangdong province offered to provide money-laundering services. Authorities said the five would recruit ordinary citizens, particularly primary and secondary school students, and use their WeChat accounts and QR code payment functions to conceal the origins of their illegally obtained money. The five offered 2% or 3% as an incentive.

In an interview with Peng Mei News, Bao Xu from the Yongjia Public Security Bureau said that compared with the older generation, the post-90s and post-00s generation were more skilled in the use of mobile phones and network information technology.

Through this extraordinary case, it was learned that telecommunications network fraud has become increasingly prevalent among young people.

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