Online gaming

Criminals in China are scamming kids desperate for more online playtime

What just happened? China’s strict laws on how long under-18s can play online games have seen fraudsters take advantage of a 15-year-old’s desperation, scamming him out of $560 by promising a way around the restriction three hours a week imposed by the government.

CAC, or the Cyberspace Administration of China, writes (via The Reg) that it handled 12,000 cases of online fraud against young people this year. One such incident involved Tan Moumou, who was using some of his online game time to enjoy a mobile title when someone added him as a friend on WeChat, the Chinese instant messaging app/ social networks/mobile payment.

The person promised Tan that they knew of a way to avoid China’s youth gaming rules, which only allow one hour of online play, between 8 and 9 p.m. local time on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays. The catch was that he needed to hand over the money for this information.

Tan secretly used his parents’ phone to pay 3,800 yuan, or about $560, to his new friend, who, needlessly said, never kept his promise and did not return the money.

The victim in another case was even younger and the payout was higher. A 12-year-old was tricked into the promise of a free game skin before the scammer convinced him he had committed an illegal offence. The penalty would be a year in jail or a $15,000 fine, but the fraudster said he’d make the whole thing disappear for $1,500. Again, the child used his parent’s phone to pay the money.

Other reported crimes where victims were under the age of 18 include fake lottery scams, handing over payment details from parents and payment for PC parts that never arrives, the latter being a popular scam in most countries in the world.

Prior to August last year, China allowed under-18s access to online gaming for one and a half hours on weekdays and three hours on public holidays and weekends. This was later reduced to the current three hours per week plus one hour on public holidays.

There had been rumors that the restrictions would be relaxed during the summer holidays when the kids weren’t in school, but Tencent Games recently disappointed millions by confirming that wasn’t going to happen. As you might expect, many of the frauds reported to CVC occur during the summer.

Thank you, the Reg