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Police warn of IM scams after local couple loses 70,000 yuan

(Global Times)

10:25, October 31, 2012

Shanghai police warned residents Tuesday to avoid opening unsolicited links, images or videos they receive over instant messaging (IM) software.

The warning came in response to several cases in which scammers used hijacked IM accounts to steal tens of thousands of yuan from local residents.

The scammers work by using a computer virus embedded in links, images and other files to take over another person's IM account, giving them access to their victim's account name, password and contact list, according to a press release from the Shanghai Public Security Bureau. The scammers then use the account to trick the victim's friends or relatives into transferring money to an unknown bank account.

In one case, a man surnamed Zeng and his wife lost 70,000 yuan ($11,211) on October 23 when they transferred it to a scammer posing as a friend of their son, who was studying abroad at the time.

To set up the scheme, the scammer first contacted Zeng's son on QQ, Tencent's popular IM client, and persuaded him to click on a picture containing a virus that allowed the account to be hijacked.

The scammer used the hijacked account to convince Zeng's wife that her son was in trouble and needed the money. The couple unquestioningly transferred the money even though a bank employee warned them that it was risky.

Police advised residents to confirm money transfers with the intended recipient before going through with the transaction.

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