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May 28, 2013

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Shanghai police arrest trio for duping residents in rent scam

SHANGHAI police said they had detained three suspects from the city of Changsha, Hunan Province, for sending scam messages about house rents to random mobile numbers in the city.

"Hi, I'm your landlord and this is my new number. There's something wrong with my bank account. Please transfer the rent to my wife's account as ..."

With message-sending machines and several SIM cards, the suspects kept sending messages to Shanghai residents. Although most of them realized they were hoax, a few fell for it.

Police said more than 100 people fell for the trick and transferred more than 700,000 yuan (US$114,291) into the fraud bank accounts. Shanghai police found that despite several accounts in different provinces, most of the money ended up in Changsha.

In April, a team of six police officers arrived in Changsha and investigated the accounts. The suspects were finally identified and arrested on May 24.

The scams emerged around February this year. A resident surnamed Feng said his wife received one of those messages around the time they were about to pay their rent. Feng's wife transferred 10,000 yuan into the fake account as three months rent.

"As soon as she completed the transfer, she found that it was an out-of-town account and realized something was fishy," Feng said.

"We called our landlord and found we had been duped," he said.


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