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Most chat fraud victims women, prosecutors say

OF the more than 10 suspects arrested and charged in fraud cases since the beginning of the year in Jing'an District, prosecutors have found that more than 70 percent of the victims were females. Online chatting has become a typical way for suspects to approach female victims, no matter their age. Lonely older people were more likely to be cheated by "friends" their own age, prosecutors said. Liu Hao, a 19-year-old Anhui Province native, was charged with fraud after he swindled more than 60,000 yuan (US$9,284) from two women in their 20s he met through a chat program. Liu pretended to be a rich Singaporean in chat rooms, claiming that he owned properties in Hong Kong and was doing real estate business in Shanghai, according to prosecutors. Lured by Liu's handsome appearance and family background, the two victims, Zhang Hui and Wang Sui, started relationships with Liu, during which Liu took 50,000 yuan from Zhang and 10,000 yuan from Wang based on various lies. Prosecutors said Liu had only a primary school education and all he learned about Singapore was from the Internet. In another case, a 41-year-old woman, surnamed Jiang, was defrauded of 90,000 yuan by her boyfriend whom she knew from a website. "Women are easy victims in fraud cases because they tend to rely on people and easily trust them," said Liu Bosong, a prosecutor. He warned women to be aware and check the stranger's identity before lending money to their "lovers." The elderly, who live separately from their children, were as vulnerable as young women in investment and telecommunications fraud cases, prosecutors said. Suspects got familiar with targeted victims often by offering petty favors. In one case, a real estate agent got 50,000 yuan from a retired woman surnamed Zhu in June to pay for his gambling bills. The suspect had been a cross-age friend of Zhu for more than two years, and convinced her she was putting money toward the purchase of an apartment.

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