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October 10, 2009

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Card-code swindler facing jail

A MAN who discovered he could transfer money from shopping cards to his own card without having to peel off the strip covering the code made 179,000 yuan (US$26,224) from his fraud, Hongkou District prosecutors said yesterday.

The local surnamed Zhou has been charged with larceny and may face a minimum sentence of 10 years in prison if found guilty.

When Zhou went to use his Lianhua OK card in a supermarket at the end of last year, he found out by accident that he could identify the code without peeling off the strip, prosecutors said.

He then bought some cards at the market price and sold them to several scalpers at discounts of 4 percent or 3 percent. After a few successful deals valued at tens of thousands of yuan, he had won trust of the scalpers.

In early January this year, Zhou bought 250 shopping cards valued at 250,000 yuan and 10 other empty cards. He identified the codes on the 250 cards before selling them, prosecutors said.

He sold 100 cards to a scalper surnamed Cao and 100 cards to another scalper surnamed Zhang on January 8. He then hired six migrant workers. He gave them each a cell phone and distributed the codes to them. He taught them how to make calls to transfer money in the 200 cards to his empty cards, according to prosecutors.

By the time the scalpers called the police after finding the cards they had bought had no money on them, Zhou had allegedly transferred 179,000 yuan to his own cards.


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