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February 7, 2012

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3 sentenced in theft after wallet-drop scheme

THREE men were sentenced to prison for taking over 300,000 yuan (US$47,532) from a woman by enticing her to divide foreign currencies in a dropped wallet, the Yangpu District People's Court said yesterday.

Convicts surnamed Chen and Lu were sentenced to 11 years in prison for theft while the third convict, surnamed Duan, was jailed for 11 1/2 years.

Prosecutors said the trio got the victim, surnamed Wu, to take out her bank card and tell them the password. In March last year, they targeted Wu, about 50, in a supermarket in Yangpu District and dropped a wallet beside her. While Lu asked Wu if she lost the wallet, Duan walked past, picked up the wallet and opened it, showing that it contained a lot of Chinese and foreign bank notes.

Duan invited Lu and Wu to share money with him after Lu pretended to alert the police. They then left for a nearby tea house to discuss how to divide the money, where another convict Chen joined as a relative of Lu, the court heard.

At the tea house, Duan claimed the Peruvian currencies were Euros with a face value of 10,000 Euros and each of them could get 40,000 yuan after the money was changed. He then volunteered to change money and transfer it into Lu's and Wu's bank account.

Lu and Wu were asked to give out their bank accounts and passwords to check out their deposits. The threesome used Wu's bank card to buy gold bars, gold necklaces and bracelets valued at more than 190,000 yuan and two Rolex watches worth nearly 110,000 yuan.

Wu reported to the police after she realized she was taken in.

Prosecutors said Wu was not the only victim to fall prey to the "wallet-dropping" scheme targeting middle-aged women. Last Thursday, a man surnamed Nie, who dropped a wallet and defrauded a woman of 180,000 yuan in Xujiahui Park last May, was sentenced to 5 1/2 years.


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