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July 9, 2014

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Jiao Tong student developed illegal base station device

A POST-GRADUATE computing student from Shanghai Jiao Tong University developed a new kind of “base station” — an illegal mobile device which blocks normal cellphone signals and sends out spam or scam messages to users— and hired it out to an unscrupulous advertising company, police said yesterday.

While earlier base stations needed to be used in conjunction with a laptop, the student, surnamed Sun, developed a standalone station.

Sun made eight such stations and even wrote programs for them to send messages automatically, said Huangpu District police.

Sun was asked to make these by his friend Xiang Jun, one of two owners of Xiangcheng advertising company and hired them out to the company for  800 yuan (US$129) per set per day, said officers.

Xiang and the other Xiangcheng owner surnamed Chen, let their employees contact clients and use these devices to send ads for them with payment of at least 3,000 yuan each day.

One of their cars was found by Huangpu police in a patrol on April 9 and two employees held. On June 18, another nine suspects involved in this case were caught.

Among Xiangcheng’s clients were well-known real estate enterprises, Shenzhen-based Gemdale and local Xinhaoze, said police.

Other enterprises shown on the Xiangcheng’s clients list included department store Hongyi Plaza, hot pot restaurant chain Little Sheep and local textiles company Dinosaur.

As well as spam, base stations are used in telecom scams. The source number of the messages can appear genuine — such as bank numbers — so as to deceive those who receive them.

Local police announced that they caught 268 suspects in Shanghai and 10 other provinces and areas during a crackdown between February 20 and June 30 this year, with 165 sets of illegal base stations seized.

Pregnant woman

An illegal base station scam case handled by police in Baoshan District involved four migrant women, including one who was pregnant.

“The mobile stations they used to send scam messages looked like a portable hard disk, which confused us because the stations we seized were generally much bigger than that,” an officer said.

The scam ring of four, who reached the city on May 19, were caught in a hotel room on May 28.

They sent messages claiming to be landlords and asked their tenants to transfer the rents to their “partner’s” bank account, said police.

Just two days before they were caught, they swindled 20,000 yuan from a local victim.

The women told police that they did so because their husbands owed a huge amount of money in their hometown and the creditor forced them to go to Shanghai with the mobile stations he’d bought online.


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