Busted: online China ‘scammer with a heart’ snared after sending US$23 lucky money gift to victim he conned out of US$40,000

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A gang of scammers in China who had conned a woman out of 290,000 yuan (US$40,000) in a bogus investment scheme were snared by police after their victim indulged them in their racket. A police officer, Hu Lei, said they used cash transfer information to find the racketeers’ account and located a suspect, surnamed Liu, in Hunan province, southern China. The police then went on to detain the rest of the gang, according to Chongqing Broadcasting Group. The racketeers had successfully scammed the victim, surnamed Wan, by launching a fake investment platform to persuade investors interested in cryptocurrency to pour money into the platform. It is unclear how the gang found their potential targets, but once they did, they would keep open communications with the victims on WeChat before convincing them to invest in the fraudulent investment company. At the beginning of this year, Liu found Wan and convinced her to invest 290,000 yuan. At the time, Wan did not know that she had been deceived and was thankful Liu had helped her make an investment. Instead of ending the conversation, Liu transferred a good luck red packet of 168 yuan to her on WeChat. He attached a message that read: “This is a small gift, please accept it.” Wan responded: “Wow, what a surprise! And this big red packet is wonderful. Let’s have good fortune all the way.” The number 168 translates to “good fortune all the way” in Mandarin. At some point, Wan became suspicious about the investment and reported Liu to the police who located him using the red packet transfer receipt. The story has sparked a widespread discussion on mainland social media. One person asked: “Why did he still have a conscience after stealing the money?” “He seems like a scammer with a heart. It would be fantastic if he stopped practicing fraud,” said another. Stories about online fraud often catch public attention in China. In June this year, a 10-year-old boy in central China who tried to collect “free gaming skins” from a live streamer ended up losing 20,000 yuan, shocking many people online. Last year, a man in northeastern China was defrauded out of 1.43 million yuan by someone posing as a customer service representative for an online shopping platform.

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