Punishments for fraud to increase

Updated: Jun 22, 2022 China Daily Print
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Telecommunication, finance, payment and cyberspace service providers will face more fines and bigger legal liability if they are found to have not implemented anti-fraud measures, a newly released draft law said.

The maximum fine for violators, such as those who do not strengthen real-name registration or account management, was 1 million yuan ($149,300) in the previous version of the draft law on telecom and online fraud.

But now, the ceiling will be increased to 5 million yuan, according to the latest draft, which was submitted to the session of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, China's top legislature, for review on Tuesday.

Since the draft was reviewed last year, a number of legislators and public opinions pointed out the fine was too low, suggesting that the NPC Standing Committee should threaten fraudsters with harsher punishment.

"We've taken the suggestion into consideration and absorbed it into the new version," Zhou Guangquan, an official from the NPC's Constitution and Law Committee, said while explaining the latest draft to lawmakers on Tuesday.

To fight telecom and online fraud more effectively, "immigration departments have also been given the right by the latest draft to restrict those involved in such fraud from leaving the country", he added.

Meanwhile, people who illegally produce, sell, provide or use devices or software to support or aid fraud-related activities will face a fine up to 10 times the amount of their illicit gains in line with the draft.

Those without illicit gains will be fined 500,000 yuan at most, it said, adding that violators may also be given a 15-day administrative detention by police if the situation is deemed serious. Both the fine and detention period are harsher than in the previous version.

In addition, Zhou said, the latest draft has added requirements to cut the capital chain of telecom and online fraud to prevent someone from using financial systems to illegally transfer money.

For example, the draft stipulates that the payment tools of the people involved in telecom and online fraud, including their digital RMB wallets or payment bar codes, can also be monitored in addition to their bank accounts, Zhou added.

Furthermore, the draft has called for greater efforts to help the public avoid fraud by raising awareness of the crime, with intensified strength to combat fraud originating from overseas.

In recent years, Chinese authorities, especially public security and judicial agencies, have paid closer attention to fighting telecom and online fraud, as it brought huge financial losses for people and even put their lives in danger in some cases.

While assigning more police officers to deal with fraud-related tips, many public security departments have also disclosed fraudsters' tricks in a timely manner to prevent the public from being cheated by some new means, such as through livestreaming or social media platforms.

Ministry of Public Security statistics show that police across the country resolved 441,000 cases of telecom and online fraud, and arrested about 690,000 suspects last year, up 37.1 percent and 90.6 percent year-on-year, respectively.

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