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April 11, 2011

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Police smash 'porcelain-crashing' gang

CONMEN who pressurized more than 60 motorists into paying on-the-spot "compensation" after faking accidents have been detained.

Police nicknamed the practice "porcelain crashing" - a reference to a similar con from 100 years ago.

The seven men, mostly in their 20s from Hubei Province, are said to have operated their scam in the six months up to February.

They would apprehend their victims on quiet highways in suburban districts and stage a minor accident in which a pedestrian was "injured." The driver would be asked to pay a sum - many thousands of yuan - to avoid police involvement and a lawsuit.

Many victims didn't report the incidents, police said.

Officers likened the scam to "porcelain crashing," dating back to Qing Dynasty (1644-1911).

Swindlers then would wander around carrying cheap porcelain goods and deliberately collide with carriages to extract compensation for their damaged "antiques." Their modern counterparts employ the same strategy, said police, except that porcelain is replaced by their bodies.

One driver, surnamed Li, was allegedly swindled out of 15,000 yuan (US$2,295) by the gang for an "injury."

Li told police he was driving at a moderate speed on a bumpy highway in Qingpu District on December 31 last year when he felt a slight collision and thought he had driven over a pothole. However, he was pursued by men on a motorbike who claimed he'd hit one of their number and threatened to accuse Li of hit and run unless he paid up.

Police matched Li's account with similar cases and caught the suspects last month.


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