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Chinese scammers target kids with promise of extra gaming hours

Cyberspace regulator's fraud report finds all is not well behind the Great Firewall

Fraudsters in China have targeted a child with promises of allowing them to get around the nation's time limits on playing computer games – for a mere $560, according to the nation's cyberspace administration. Yesterday the CAC detailed some of the 12,000 acts of online fraud perpetrated against minors it handled this year.

The unfortunate 15 year old, whom the CAC identified as Tan Moumou, was playing a mobile game when an unknown person added him as a friend on messaging platform WeChat and claimed he could circumvent China's gaming restrictions. The rules limit minors to just three hours play each week.

The child surreptitiously made payments to his new "friend" using his parent's mobile phone and handed over 3,800 yuan – around $560. Needless to say, the fraudster was not able to change Beijing's limit on allowed gaming hours.

In another case, a 12 year old lured by the promise of a free game skin was convinced they had committed an illegal act and that a $1,500 payment could make the problem go away. That sum was suggested as a bargain compared to the year in jail or $15,000 fine that would otherwise be imposed.

The child made the payment – again using a parent's phone – before his mother called the police.

Other incidences of fraud saw a 12 year old pay for gaming equipment that was never delivered, an eleven year old deceived in a fake lottery scam, and a 14 year old fooled into divulging details of their parents' payment services to a scammer who netted around $1850.

The CAC revealed the frauds described above, and more, alongside an announcement of a crackdown on such activity online. The announcement coincided with summer holidays – when the amount of time Chinese kids spend online increases.

The regulator said that while local web giants co-operated with its inquiries, there is still plenty of work to do on measures such as fraud reporting mechanisms, timely handling of fraud reports, and ongoing security testing of applications and infrastructure.

"It is hoped that all sectors of the society will work together to actively guide minors, raise awareness of preventing telecommunication network fraud, and not give criminals an opportunity," a machine translation of the announcement states.

Organizations that don't take action – swiftly and rigorously – risk investigations that inevitably end with apologies, and regulation that makes growth harder to achieve. ®

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