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September 2, 2010

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Police smash Internet sex ring

POLICE say they have arrested 22 people for operating a prostitution service via the Internet.

It's city's latest crackdown on prostitution with more and more use being made of the Internet to provide sex services, police said.

"The deals become more and more concealed and hard to detect," said officer He Junyi, who investigated the case.

Officers arrested 12 prostitutes, the youngest of whom was 18 years old.

Other suspects held were three organizers and the people they hired to post sex advertisements online. The gang mainly operated in Shanghai with another base in central China's Hubei Province.

The chief organizer, Liu Chuanwen, 30, began the illegal business last year, police said. All the prostitutes, lured by high payments, were recruited via the Internet, police said.

They said that 52 clients have been identified, most of them well educated white-collar workers, including one Chinese employee with the Shanghai branch of a leading bank and a graduate from a local famous university.

The secret dealings were detected after a man was found talking about the sex service on an online chat room in a local Internet cafe in Baoshan District in May, police said.

Once someone showed interest, the two parties would switch to QQ, a popular chat software, for further discussion about a deal, police said.

"The pimps claimed the prostitutes were university students, mature women or ethnic girls," He said. The pimps would post the prostitutes' photos online. They also changed their computers' IP addresses often to dodge online checks.

"They boasted they could provide all kinds of services," He said.

The pimps would then arrange meetings at high-end hotels in Xuhui and Putuo districts.

The gang would pay 5,000 yuan (US$734.5) a month to rent a room and force the women stay there, police said.

For each deal, a woman could get 300 to 1,000 yuan. One prostitute could earn up to 40,000 yuan a month with half the money going to the pimps, police said.

Police officers posed as clients, cleaning staff and hotel visitors during the investigation.

He said he had pretended to be a visitor waiting for a friend at the hotel. "One of the prostitutes even talked to me about having a dinner together."

The suspects were caught on August 6 in Shanghai and Hubei, police said. Combing through the deals and according to suspects' confessions, police identified their clients.

The bank worker had arranged two deals recently. The first was called off and the second conducted at a price of 300 yuan.

The clients would be subject to short-term detention, usually 10 days, once confirmed, police said.

Meanwhile, in Baoshan District on Monday night, police closed 44 venues, including hair salons and foot massage centers, suspected of providing prostitution. More than 70 people were detained.


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