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'Friend' swindler jailed for 40,000-yuan scam

A "PHONE-A-FRIEND" swindler was jailed for 18 months yesterday for cheating a victim out of 40,000 yuan (US$5,844).

Shao Caiming, an unemployed man in Guangdong Province, saw a news report of a fraud case on TV and decided to copy it.

First he spent 160 yuan to buy a bank card under an assumed name.

Then he dialed a cell phone number in Shanghai at random, but after a short exchange he was cut off.

He tried another number and this time a man called Fang answered.

Shao asked Fang to guess who was calling. Fang, who has a friend in Guangdong, was convinced it was him when he heard Shao's accent, the Yangpu District People's Court heard.

Shao then pretended to be the friend and said he would soon be visiting Shanghai.

The next day Shao called Fang again, claiming he had been caught visiting prostitutes and had to pay a 20,000 yuan fine.

He asked to borrow the money because he didn't have so much cash, the court was told, and gave Fang his account details.

Fang, still thinking it was his friend, transferred money to Shao's account.

Shao drew the money out of an ATM, then contacted Fang again to say he needed another 20,000 yuan to pay the fine.

Fang again sent the money.

Shao, eager to get his hands on the money and having reached his daily withdrawal limit, went to the bank counter for the cash.

However, a clerk became suspicious at the large amounts being withdrawn and called the police.

The court heard that all of Fang's money had been returned to him.


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