Chinese nationals involved in online scams

Two Chinese citizens and two of their local associates arrested by the Detective Branch of Police on allegations of fraud.

“Earn Tk 18,000 working 20 minutes per day online,” “We are disbursing loans without any collateral”. A group of Chinese nationals have embezzled many people's money with flashy advertisements.

Apart from this, they are deceiving Bangladeshi people online in various ways. After investigating several cases of cybercrime, the police found the involvement of Chinese nationals living in Bangladesh.

Police officials involved in the investigation say that Chinese citizens are cheating people by opening new apps and websites for five to six months. Apart from involving the citizens of Bangladesh in their scam, they are also bringing people in from China.

This were learnt by talking with people involved in the investigation of eight cases of cybercrime regarding Chinese citizens and their Bangladeshi associates. Among the cases, five are being investigated by the Cyber ​​and Special Crime Section of the Intelligence Division (DB) of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP).

The three cases are being investigated by the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the police. 20 people including 7 Chinese nationals were arrested in these cases. After the investigation, the DB issued charge sheets in two cases. Three Chinese nationals have been charged. The remaining three cases are under investigation.

Ashraf Ullah, Additional Deputy Commissioner of DB, told Prothom Alo that many Chinese citizens come to Bangladesh and get involved in financial fraud under the guise of various businesses. An officer of the Special Branch (SB) Immigration Department of the Police told Prothom Alo on the condition of anonymity that based on the information that Chinese nationals are involved in various frauds including cybercrimes, some conditions have recently been added to their on-arrival visas, which were previously very relaxed.

But no correct information was found about how many Chinese citizens are living currently in Bangladesh legally and illegally. But a relevant source is saying, there were more than 50 thousand Chinese citizens in the country during the corona period. The number has increased now.

Chinese involved in many crimes

According to the investigating police officers, Chinese citizens are mainly involved in five types of cybercrimes. One of them is mobile app based micro loans. They trap people by giving loans without collateral. Through that app, various personal information including national identity card information, e-mail, mobile numbers are accrued.  

Then the fraud syndicate demands from Tk 50 thousand to millions by lending someone Tk 5,000. If the customer refuses to pay, they cheat by spreading personal information on social media and threatening lawsuits. A DB official said that many Chinese nationals in Bangladesh are also trapping Indian nationals in the name of giving loans.

 According to investigators, Chinese nationals are also involved in various app-based online gambling operations. Basically, gambling events are set up in apps around various international matches of cricket and football.

Apart from this, they are involved in cheating people by opening websites in the name of Multi Level Marketing (MLM). They send links to people in the name of selling products.

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After entering the link with some information, buying products and investing a small amount of money, they are charged Taka 500 to 5000. If the person can bring in five investors, the dividend is said to be paid. Even if he brings investors later, he is not paid again.

Another strategy the Chinese citizens deploy to deceive is to advertise to earn money from home by opening a website similar to that of various reputable companies. Another of their crimes is taking money by spreading obscenity on online platforms like Likee and Vivo app.

In this case, they are targeting expatriate Bangladeshis in different countries Five people, including Chinese national Yao Jie, were arrested in June last year for allegedly spreading obscene content through live videos on the Bigo app.

According to the investigation agency CID, evidence has been found that Tk 1.08 billion were taken from Bangladeshis by spreading obscene content through this app. In this incident, the managing director of Bigo Bangla, Yao Ji, has been accused of smuggling Tk 790 million from Bangladesh to abroad.

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Apart from these, Chinese citizens have also been found involved in other frauds including withdrawing money from bank booths through ATM card fraud. Last November, a gang tried to extort Taka 5000,000 from a Chinese citizen in the name of importing goods from China. Police arrested four Chinese nationals in this incident.

Contacting some fraudsters through an interpreter, it is known that the members of the fraudsters are acquiring trade licenses from the two City Corporations of Dhaka and permission from the Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) in the name of business. Later, they are cheating under the shadow of the organisation.

A member of the fraudulent circle told Prothom Alo that many people were brought from China to Bangladesh in the name of giving them jobs in business firms. Later, they were used to working in the cheating. Those who work according to the terms of the ring are paid well. If anyone disagrees, the Chinese national is held hostage and a large sum of money is demanded from his family.

Money laundering

According to DB information, a gang was deceiving many people by opening a website on the model of Amazon and promoting flashy advertisements. Recently, four members of the gang, including two Chinese nationals, were arrested.

Thousands of mobile numbers involving in banking services were recovered from them. Analysing the transaction data, DB says that the gang has smuggled around Tk one billion through illegal banking channels (hundi) in the last three months.

The cyber monitoring station of CID is investigating a case filed by a mobile banking service company against a Chinese fraudster. Officials involved in the investigation said that the gang is cheating many people by selling virtual products in the name of MLM. They use a mobile banking service provider's merchant account for money transactions.

Investigations revealed that the account was in the name of a deceased person. The Chinese citizen opened the account by giving illegal privileges to an official of the mobile banking service. Analysing the transaction data of that account, CID says that about Tk 140 million have been transacted in 7 days. Later this money was laundered abroad.