Lonely men on the internet in China are being fleeced by scammers hiding behind tailor-made packages aimed at convincing the victims that they are chatting to sweet-voiced, pretty girls in need of a little financial help.
Internet scams targeting lonely hearts are nothing new, but a sophisticated black market has emerged to make trapping the unwary an easier, and more lucrative, affair.
One person familiar with the new industry told The Beijing News that recorded audio messages were being used to counter growing awareness of potential fraud on the internet.
“People’s anti-fraud awareness is rising, but they are less concerned about voice messages sent on social media because these messages cannot be reposted to other users,” he said. “People don’t know that, while what you hear is a female voice, the person chatting with you on the internet might be a vulgar man.”
According to The Beijing News, packages of fake social media accounts, pictures and audio messages are available for as little as 20 yuan (US$3).
One such package, bought at an online store in China, included 1,500 audio messages featuring female voices, many of them seductively asking for “red packets” – a traditional way of giving money which has become synonymous with remitting money over the internet on social media app WeChat.
One victim of this kind of scam, surnamed Wu, was coaxed out of 20,000 yuan over two months, according to Jinjiang Economic Daily.
Wu, from Jinjiang in the southeastern province of Fujian, told police he got to know a woman online and soon began referring to her as his girlfriend, believing she was the goddess he had been looking for.
After gaining Wu’s trust, his chatting mate – whom he never met in person – solicited him for money 15 times, giving reasons ranging from needing to pay debts to paying her mother’s medical bills. He only realised he was being conned when he was blocked by his “friend” after sending her all the money she had asked for.
The suspect, who was later detained by police, turned out to be a man living in the central province of Henan. He confessed to hiding behind the female account and using it to swindle three men in Fujian and five living in other Chinese provinces, according to the Jinjiang newspaper.
The cheaters generally buy hundreds or even thousands of social media accounts, in the expectation that they will be gradually frozen as their victims report them to police, according to a man, surnamed Zhang, quoted in the The Beijing News report.
Zhang, who claimed to work for an internet company, headquartered in Cambodia with branches in China’s first-tier cities, said a social media account cost 17 yuan with customers required to buy at least 10 accounts at a time.
“I’ve been engaged in this industry for three years. I can easily earn more than 7,000 yuan per month,” he said.
Inexperienced fraudsters can even buy teaching kits online to get them started, with full details of the scam, related software, voice messages, video materials and coaxing tactics to use in conversation with their targets, according to The Beijing News.
A 9GB zip file containing thousands of everyday pictures and videos of 35 young women was reportedly sold for 19 yuan, the article said.
More from South China Morning Post:
This article Scammers target Chinese lonely hearts with cheap sweet talk which is also very fake first appeared on South China Morning Post