Pudong police said yesterday that they have caught three suspects who attempted to blackmail motorists after claiming to have been knocked down while riding a rental bike.
The three, from a gang of seven or eight people, have made at least 10,000 yuan (,470) from the subterfuge since the beginning of this year, while the rest of the gang are still being hunted, police said.
The gang operated mostly in Baoshan, Jiading, Putuo districts and Pudong, and investigation started in late February when one of the victims reported to the police that he had twice run into the same suspicious person on Xiuyan Road, Pudong.
The victim, a man surnamed Zhang, told police that a man on an Ofo bike fell down on the ground next to his car when he was driving on the bike lane to overtake an extremely slow car in front of him. This had resulted in Zhang paying 1,000 yuan to settle the "accident" on the first occasion, but he realized that this could be a con trick when the same thing happened to him a second time.
The driver in the slow car blocking the way of drivers was also a member of the gang, police said.
The suspects, who appeared during morning rush hours when the victims were hurrying to work or taking their children to school, usually targeted streets with only one lane in each direction so that the victims could be easily coerced into moving into the bike lane where the "accidents" took place, police said.
They added there were 10 victims or so like Zhang, and had each lost 500 to 1,000 yuan to the scammers. The suspects, who are from Jiangsu Province, drove back to their hometown to change car plates every 10 to 15 days, police said.
Police investigated in plainclothes and took videos of the scams as evidence.
The three suspects were netted in Pudong's Yangsi area recently when performing the same trick on more motorists.