'Handsome con artists' run out of luck here

Updated 2017-09-15 09:31:55 Shanghai Daily

The young men were about 25 years old, decently dressed and good looking — and they used hard luck stories to con female public transport passengers.

The suspects have defrauded at least 105 people of over 200,000 yuan (,500) from around the country since March, police said.

The gang of 10 has been detained in the city for defrauding Metro passengers with the excuse that they were short of money for traveling out of town, Shanghai Metro police said yesterday.

Police started investigation last month after a woman reported she was defrauded of 3,500 yuan by a man at Zhenping Road Station in Shanghai. The 22-year-old woman surnamed Lei said a man approached her at the station on August 15 asking her for money to fly to Beijing, claiming that his wallet was stolen. He told her he was a salesman who had come to Shanghai to collect a prize his company had given him.

"He looked anxious, helpless and sorry to ask for money from a stranger," Lei said. "I didn't give much thought why a plane ticket from Shanghai to Beijing would cost that much."

Lei gave him 300 yuan in cash, 3,000 yuan she withdrew from an ATM machine and 200 yuan via WeChat, but the suspect quickly unfriended her on WeChat.

Lei called the police after a sleepless night.

The man, surnamed Dai, who allegedly defrauded Lei, was caught with nine others in a hotel in Shanghai at the end of last month.

All of the suspects have confessed that they defrauded people at Metro stations, police said.

Police added the gang worked in teams and in most cases defrauded people of 200 to 500 yuan at a time.

"Suspects in such cases are usually young men about 25 years old, decently dressed and good looking, who target women from 15 to 30 years old," said Dong Hanke, a police officer from Shanghai Railway Station Metro Police Station, which covers Zhenping Road Station who handled the case.

Dong said only about 30 of the estimated 105 victims in this case reported to the police after being defrauded.

"Most victims were too ashamed to let others know that they had been conned or didn't mind about losing a small amount of money," he said.

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