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Man jailed for Internet scam

A MAN was jailed for six months yesterday for conning an online trader by masquerading as Alipay, China's biggest electronic payment service provider.

His victim, called Shen Yi, opened an online store to sell mobile phone pre-paid cards on, China's largest e-commerce platform, in March 2008.

"Friends all said it was easier to earn money by running an online store. But I didn't expect my store to attract a swindler instead of customers," Shen said.

On March 19 a buyer ordered pre-paid cards worth 1,000 yuan (US$146). A few minutes later, Shen received an e-mail saying the buyer had made payment and was waiting for delivery.

The e-mail was designed to look as if it was sent by Alipay, which is a widely accepted payment system for sellers on Usually Taobao sellers will deliver goods after receiving this kind of e-mail. Buyers tell Alipay to transfer their money to the seller's account after they receive the goods.

Shen put 1,000 yuan of credit on to the appointed mobile phone number after seeing the e-mail.

The next day he received orders for 10,500 yuan worth of pre-paid cards from three buyers. He again put the credit on to the appointed phone numbers after receiving e-mails supposedly from Alipay.

However, no money was ever transmitted to Shen's account. Alipay said there was no record of any money transfer.

Shen checked the e-mails again and found they were sent from, while the real mailbox of Alipay is

The police soon identified Zhou Yisen, 23, a Fujian Province native, as the source of the e-mails. Zhou turned himself in to the police in January. His family returned the money to the victim.

Zhou told the court he had majored in e-commerce at college and discovered some new online sellers weren't familiar with trading procedures and could easily be conned.

The court gave him a lenient sentence because he gave himself up. Prosecutors said there may be more victims but only Shen had come forward to the police.

Judges at the Qingpu District People's Court warned online sellers to familiarize themselves with e-commerce procedures before starting a businesses online to protect themselves from such scams.


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