Cybercrime in China: Online Fraud

March 31, 2017

When it comes to cybercrime in China, many outside observers might focus on the hacking of websites or stored data in the US and other Western countries, O’Melveny partner Ron Cheng wrote in a March 29, 2017, article. Several cases in recent years have focused on possible compromises of personal information or trade secrets housed on US sites or belonging to US industry. More recently, a publicized password vulnerability in Internet of Things devices (closed circuit cameras) made by a Chinese manufacturer appears to have led a DDOS attack on the Internet infrastructure company Dyn.

If a Chinese citizen (particularly an urbanite who grew up in the 1990s and 2000s) is asked about cybercrime, the response is likely to be online fraud. Online fraud has been a growing phenomenon in China in recent years, but a public uproar arose from a report last year about a telephone fraud directed against an incoming college student, Xu Yuyu. The swindlers, posing as education bureau officials, persuaded Ms. Xu to transfer RMB 9,900 (approximately US$1,439) under the pretense that the transfer was necessary to receive financial aid. When Ms. Xu found out she had been defrauded, she reported the case and, on the way home, fell unconscious and died a few days later of cardiac arrest. Whatever the cause of the death, the case highlighted the prevalence of online scams in China.

Cheng handles both anti-corruption and data security and privacy matters and is co-located in Hong Kong and Los Angeles.