QQ coin for netizens who hunt suspects

10:59, December 25, 2010      

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Police have started offering virtual online money to encourage Internet users to report clues in criminal cases.

Police hope the hunt for suspects can be sped up by harnessing the growing population of Internet users in China.

Earlier this month, the public security bureau in Sayibak district of Urumqi, capital of the Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region, posted a photo on its website showing a crime scene. It said anyone providing information about the case could be rewarded 500 to 5,000 yuan ($75 to 750), either in real money or QQ coin.

QQ coin is the virtual currency used for payment of virtual items and services on QQ, China's most popular online instant-messaging network.

According to Tencent, the creator and owner of QQ, the platform had 636 million actives users by Sept 30, with a peak of 118 million online at the same time.

Since the notice was posted on Dec 16, several other websites, including sina.com, qq.com and ifeng.com, posted the notice, which received more than 800 hits.

The bureau told China Daily it is the first time they have tried to gather clues through the Internet.

"We haven't got any really useful or valuable information so far, but we believe it gives us a broader range of help by counting on netizens, such as QQ users, simply because there are so many of them, and offering QQ coins actually gets more of them interested," one official from the police bureau who declined to give his name - and is also a QQ user - told China Daily.

"Police especially have to keep up with the times, and it is both necessary and helpful to mix traditional investigation methods with modern information tools and platforms," he said.

Most netizens have embraced this post as "it recognizes the power of netizens".

"We will actively try to be helpful and provide useful information if we know anything," said a netizen with the online name "Woaidaodao".

The bureau in Urumqi, however, is not the first to try this new method.

On Nov 26, the public security bureau of Tianning district in Changzhou city, Jiangsu province, posted a similar notice on its blog and micro blog, offering 10,000 yuan or equivalent QQ coin to those who provide clues to the police.

On Dec 3, one week after the notice, a netizen surnamed Chen called police and said the suspect was his friend. Chen later persuaded the suspect to confess.

"However, only certain suspects should be found this way, because it's illegal to make public online all information of every suspect," said Wang Hui, the director of Tianning public security bureau, "we have to make an online arrest notice only after a thorough examination. We have to make sure online power won't be abused."

By Wang Jingqiong and Shao Wei, China Daily

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