China Detains 43 Dating Scammers in Anhui Province

43 people have been detained in China’s Anhui province on charges relating to online dating fraud.

Scammers in Hefei, Anqing, and Tongcheng had registered multiple illicit matchmaking websites. They would reportedly seek to win the trust of users, before persuading them to upgrade to senior memberships.

The scams impacted over 4,000 victims, and saw some 14.5 million yuan ($2 million) moved according to officials in Anquing.

Police confiscated 50 computers at the three locations and froze 143 bank cards as part of the investigation, which is ongoing.

In August, 57 scammers were jailed in Jiangsu province on similar charges. They were sentenced to between six months and 11 years in prison and fined between 200,000 and 30 million yuan.

A crackdown on fake profiles in January saw 600 arrested in 13 provinces. That investigation, which began in August 2017, found that consumers may have lost over 1 billion yuan ($154 million).

Last week, a BBC Panorama episode explored online dating fraud. The episode followed a small number of victims, highlighting the emotional impact of the scams.

Dan Winchester, co-founder of Scamalytics, spoke to talkRADIO about some of the tactics shown by the documentary.

Scammers will often ask for money to cover medical expenses, but they have also been known to ask for revealing images (which can later be used for blackmail).

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