Seven people stood trial for fraud in east China on Tuesday, accused of a scam that caused an 18-year-old victim to die of a heart attack when she learned she had been cheated out of 9,900 yuan (1,451 US dollars) intended for university tuition fees.
High-school graduate Xu Yuyu was preparing to go to Nanjing University of Posts and Telecommunications when she died on August 19 last year. Police determined that cardiac arrest was the cause of death after a post-mortem examination.
The Ministry of Public Security issued a top-level arrest warrant after the incident, and the seven suspects had been arrested within 10 days.
Screenshot of suspects in Xu Yuyu's case standing trial in Linyi City, Shandong Province. /CCTV Photo
On Tuesday, prosecutors at the Intermediate People's Court of Linyi city, east China's Shandong Province, said the gang obtained at least 560,000 yuan through telephone fraud from November 2015 to August 2016, and most of the victims were students.
The suspects are accused of working in a group in Xu's case. According to the prosecutors, Chen Wenhui, the gang leader, bought personal information from Du Tianyu, an internet hacker, including the victim's name, telephone number, address and the name of the high school she graduated from.
A file photo of Xu Yuyu. /Photo by Hainan Daily
Another suspect then phoned Xu pretending to be from the local education, and told her she could get a bursary of 2,680 yuan if she contacted an office which was actually manned by another member of the gang, the prosecutors said.
Following the phone calls, Xu was directed to deposit a 9,900-yuan "activation fee" into a bank account on the basis that it would be returned soon. She did, but the money was never returned.
The incident triggered outrage across China and led to a crackdown on telecommunication fraud and a tightening of bank security measures.
Items seized by Guangdong police during a campaign against telecommunication fraud. /VCG Photo
Chinese police took down 7,682 fraud groups and investigated 83,000 telecoms fraud cases in 2016, according to official figures. And since December 1, money transfers by ATM between accounts under different names have been held for 24 hours, pending checks by the bank.
The court is expected to announce verdicts for the suspects in Xu Yuyu's case in the coming days.