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December 29, 2009

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Trial starts for 7 in 1.8m yuan scam

A SEVEN-MEMBER gang went on trial yesterday for allegedly helping overseas criminals work a phone scam that cost a victim more than 1.8 million yuan (US$263,375).

Judges of Huangpu District People's Court said that, while the fraud case wasn't the most serious of its kind, the victim is the biggest money-loser to date.

"The defendants couldn't return a penny to the victim because all her money had been transferred to the overseas gang members, who are still at large," said the chief judge on the case.

The hearing is scheduled to last two days.

Prosecutors alleged that Chen Menghong, 36, of Fujian Province, conspired in February with a Taiwanese man in Thailand about the phone scam.

The Taiwanese hired people to make phone calls to Shanghai residents at random through a computer network.

The gang members posed as police and told people that their bank accounts had been broken into and used for crimes, and asked them to transfer their money to a so-called safe account, prosecutors said.

The victim received such a call on April 16.

In yesterday's hearing, Chen argued he didn't know details of the scam.

He said he just suspected the money he was asked to transfer was illegal and agreed to help for the sake of award.

The defendants were caught in June after the victim reported to police.


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