7 gang mem­bers con­victed; fa­ther says he’ll tell daugh­ter when vis­it­ing her tomb

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

The ring­leader of a tele­com fraud gang blamed in the death of a promis­ing young stu­dent in East China has been sen­tenced to life in prison.

Chen Wen­hui, 22, who also il­le­gally ob­tained per­sonal data, was among seven peo­ple sen­tenced at Linyi In­ter­me­di­ate Peo­ple’s Court in Shan­dong province on Wed­nes­day. The oth­ers re­ceived prison terms of three to 15 years.

The gang cheated many victims out of a to­tal of more than 560,000 yuan ($83,000) from Novem­ber 2015 to Au­gust 2016.

More than 23,000 calls were made in which scam­mers posed as ed­u­ca­tional, fi­nan­cial or real es­tate of­fi­cials.

“Their ma­jor tar­gets were col­lege-bound stu­dents,” the court said in a state­ment on Wed­nes­day.

The case took on na­tional sig­nif­i­cance in Au­gust when one vic­tim, Xu Yuyu, an 18-year-old univer­sity can­di­date from Linyi, died of car­diac ar­rest after be­ing conned out of 9,900 yuan she had saved for her col­lege tu­ition.

“The scam was de­vised by Chen, and Xu’s death was linked to the anx­i­ety cre­ated by his tele­com fraud,” the court said.

Chen and his gang called the stu­dent on Aug 19 and told her she would re­ceive about 2,600 yuan in stu­dent aid after trans­fer­ring her tu­ition into an ac­count they pro­vided.

She trans­ferred the money. She had ap­plied for stu­dent aid from a lo­cal ed­u­ca­tional au­thor­ity two days be­fore the scam­mers’ call, ac­cord­ing to the court. Her per­sonal in­for­ma­tion was among more than 10,000 bits of in­for­ma­tion on peo­ple that Chen had il­le­gally ob­tained on­line.

At a hear­ing on June 27, ex­pert wit­nesses tes­ti­fied that Xu’s death re­sulted from the great pres­sure and sad­ness she felt after be­ing de­frauded. The court said it agreed, given that “Xu was in good health and no prob­lems were found in an ear­lier checkup”.

Xu Lian­bin, the stu­dent’s fa­ther, said he was sat­is­fied with the ver­dict. “I was ner­vous be­fore the an­nounce­ment. I plan to visit my daugh­ter’s tomb later and tell her about the judg­ment,” he said.

Un­der Chi­nese law, Chen faced a sen­tence of 10 years to life im­pris­on­ment be­cause the num­ber of calls made were deemed to be “ex­tremely large” and the lead­ing role he played was “ex­tremely se­ri­ous”.

A ju­di­cial in­ter­pre­ta­tion re­gard­ing the pro­tec­tion of cit­i­zens’ in­for­ma­tion says Chen, of Fu­jian province, should also face a prison term of up to seven years for the in­for­ma­tion he il­le­gally pur­chased.

“Con­sid­er­ing th­ese fac­tors, as well as our coun­try’s re­quire­ment of strictly pun­ish­ing tele­com scam­mers, we sen­tenced Chen to life in prison,” the court said.

Hong Daode, a law pro­fes­sor at China Univer­sity of Po­lit­i­cal Science and Law, said Chen’s sen­tence is rea­son­able. “Some losses brought by tele­com fraud can­not be re­cov­ered, and our ju­di­cial sys­tem calls for heavy penal­ties for de­fraud­ers whose of­fenses cause oth­ers’ deaths.”

The court also con­fis­cated all of Chen’s as­sets, and the oth­ers were fined from 100,000 to 600,000 yuan. None of those con­victed, rang­ing in age from 20 to 30, have stated whether they will ap­peal the sen­tence, the court said.

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