Crimes to be pun­ished se­verely

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CHINA - By CAO YIN caoyin@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Tele­com and on­line fraud­sters will face heav­ier pun­ish­ments if their be­hav­ior causes death or long-term men­tal dis­tress, ac­cord­ing to a new ju­di­cial guide­line.

The guide­line, re­leased on Tues­day by the Supreme Peo­ple’s Court, the Supreme Peo­ple’s Procu­ra­torate and the Min­istry of Pub­lic Se­cu­rity, stip­u­lates that tele­com and on­line swindlers should be given heav­ier penal­ties un­der 10 cir­cum­stances, in­clud­ing caus­ing the death of a vic­tim, cheat­ing the dis­abled or the el­derly, or de­fraud­ing by pre­tend­ing to be le­gal of­fi­cials.

“The guide­line aims to step up pun­ish­ments for de­fraud­ers or peo­ple with such in­ten­tions, as the num­ber of cases of tele­com and on­line scams has soared in the past few years,” said Li Ruiyi, deputy judge of the top court’s No 3 Crim­i­nal Tri­bunal.

From Jan­uary to Novem­ber, China un­cov­ered 93,000 cases of tele­com and on­line fraud, catch­ing 52,000 of­fend­ers, Li said, adding that both fig­ures had dou­bled year-on-year.

“Of greater con­cern is that some tele­com scams did not only swin­dle vic­tims out of money, but also cost them their lives,” he said.

In Au­gust, Xu Yuyu, an 18-year-old from Linyi, Shan­dong prov­ince, died of a heart at­tack af­ter los­ing 9,900 yuan ($1,500) in a phone scam. The money had been in­tended to cover her col­lege tu­ition fees.

Song Zhen­ning, a col­lege stu­dent in the same prov­ince, also died of car­diac ar­rest in Au­gust five days af­ter he was swin­dled out of 2,000 yuan.

“The money was in­tended to cover the vic­tims’ tu­ition, med­i­cal and ba­sic liv­ing costs. They shoul­dered both an eco­nomic and men­tal bur­den,” he said, adding that the guide­line is to en­sure such tragedies are avoided.

Mean­while, the guide­line, ef­fec­tive since Tues­day, uni­fies a na­tional stan­dard on the def­i­ni­tion of fraud amounts.

“Pre­vi­ously, we pro­vided a range for grass­roots courts to de­fine how much was con­sid­ered a ‘huge’ or ‘rel­a­tively large’ amount, be­cause the econ­omy de­vel­ops un­evenly in dif­fer­ent ar­eas,” Song said.

But now, in a fraud case,

Other ma­jor points in the guide­line

3,000 yuan or more is de­fined as a “rel­a­tively large amount”, while 30,000 yuan or more is de­fined as a “huge amount”, ac­cord­ing to the guide­line.

Un­der Chi­nese Crim­i­nal Law, the most se­vere pun­ish­ment given to de­fraud­ers will be life im­pris­on­ment, if the amount of money in a case is “huge” or their be­hav­ior is deemed se­ri­ous enough for such pun­ish­ment.

Zhou Guangquan, a law pro­fes­sor at Ts­inghua Univer­sity, said: “The more spe­cific the guide­line is, the more ef­fec­tive ju­di­cial bod­ies’ fight against tele­com scams will be.”

Chen Shiqu, deputy in­spec­tor of the min­istry’s crim­i­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion depart­ment, praised the uni­fied stan­dard, “be­cause it makes tack­ling cross-re­gional tele­com scams much more prac­ti­cal.”

XU WEIWEI/FOR CHINA DAILY

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