China cracks down on hundreds of millions of dollars of government investment scams

BEIJING (Reuters) – Chinese police this year have cracked down on hundreds of millions of dollars of fraud cases using fabricated government documents to attract investment in fake national projects, state media reported on Tuesday.

Public security agencies have solved a total of more than 260 cases this year and taken down 180 criminal groups related to fake national projects involving 1.5 billion yuan ($210 million) of funds from investors, the official Xinhua news agency reported.

Such scams are often conducted online and with operations based overseas, tricking people into paying initial capital or membership fees, Xinhua reported. Fake poverty alleviation projects using fabricated government documents and credentials are also common.

Online fraud is particularly entrenched in China, coming at a time when its slowing economy is keen to attract investment funds both domestically and from abroad to add vigor to its many sectors and industries.

Global asset managers setting up shop in China grapple rampant scams where online fraudsters dupe investors with juicy returns on new products using their brands and logos illegally.

Last month, Singapore sovereign wealth fund Temasek Holdings said there had been scammers fraudulently claiming to represent its Shenzhen office and soliciting money from individuals on the premise of paying them back with commissions.

Chinese police this year started to crack down on online scams operating in Myanmar where more than 100,000 people engage in telecom fraud each day. Over 31,000 telecom fraud suspects were handed to China by Myanmar authorities in November.

($1 = 7.1461 Chinese yuan renminbi)

(Reporting by Albee Zhang and Ryan Woo)