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January 24, 2011

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Police take to streets to warn of phishing scam

POLICE are warning locals to be on the alert for telephone or Internet notices of a "banking system upgrade," or risk having their accounts cleaned out.

The scam involves online banking, with victims told their bank card password is about to expire. Unwitting cardholders are directed to a phishing website - disguised as a bank site - to get their cards "upgraded."

"These phishing sites was very like banks' real ones," said Wei Jian, an officer of the economic investigation department. "Once the cardholder enters their account information and password on the phishing site, their money is transferred by the criminals."

Shanghai police have launched a citywide campaign to prevent locals from being duped. Thousands of officers have taken to the streets and shopping malls to provide advice on how to avoid online or telecom scams.

"No matter what these people claim, the only target is the money on your account," said an officer at Century Square on Nanjing Road Pedestrian Mall. "If you are not sure about what they are saying, just dial 110 and we will help you."

Police said they detained around 700 people over telecom scams in the past year, with 1.7 million yuan (US$258,237) recovered.

More than 1,800 telecom scam cases were solved last year and almost 3,000 residents were stopped from transferring 40 million yuan to suspects, police said.

However, officers admitted that there are difficulties as most scammers are based overseas. "They work like small companies and keep making phone calls to residents in China," Wei said. "They know they have to operate outside of the country to create obstacles for police."

Shanghai police are trying to work with forces elsewhere in Asia to tackle these gangs.


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