A draft law against telecom and online frauds was submitted to the Standing Committee of the National People”s Congress, China’s top legislature, for review on Tuesday. It proposes higher penalties for those indulging in illegal activities such as selling phone numbers, and financial and internet account information. It also proposes to establish a system to immediately freeze accounts suspected to be involved in telecom frauds, and requires the police to help those who have been cheated.
The measures are urgently needed. China reported more than 927,000 cases of telecom and online frauds, accounting for over 40 percent of all criminal cases that year.
In order to shield people from such frauds, the Ministry of Public Security developed the National Anti-Fraud Center app and invested heavily to popularize it. But instead of trying to educate the possible victims, the authorities would do better to crack down on the criminal gangs.
That’s the significance of the draft. Once approved by the NPC Standing Committee, it will enable the authorities to strike at the criminal gangs. The authorities must also go after those selling fake ID cards, opening bank accounts in other people’s names, or using such accounts to illegally transfer money.
Under the existing arrangement, the banks notify the police whenever they notice a suspicious transaction. A specific law on telecom and online frauds will strengthen such monitoring mechanisms and help nab the culprits.
At present, the Commercial Bank Law advocates that the willingness of the depositors be respected. So even if a bank found a transaction to be suspicious, it had to respect the account holder’s choice. This made it easy for the fraudsters to cheat people.
Since the draft law authorizes the local police to freeze an account as soon as they are informed of a suspicious transaction, frauds can be more easily prevented in the future. Yet it would be unrealistic to expect the law alone to end all telecom and online frauds. Nevertheless, it is a good beginning.
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