E-commerce and online sex fraud on the rise, Tencent’s Q4 anti-fraud report shows

Tencent’s “Guardian Plan” recently released the 2017 fourth quarter “Anti-Telecom Network Fraud Big Data Report” (in Chinese).

The report shows that the number of fraud calls dropped 78.2% from the same time in the previous year, and the number of text message scams saw a 75.4% decrease as well.

Fraud calls (r), text messages (m), and fraud callers (l) all show significant drops from the same period in the previous year (Image Credit: Tencent)

However, in terms of loss, the outlook is rather bleak. The aggregated loss from telecom and online fraud was RMB 4.39 billion in the fourth quarter alone. The total number of fraud cases grew 89% from the previous quarter, totaling 239 thousand cases. Although average loss per case dropped, the highest single case losses exceeded a record-breaking RMB 10 million, which was an online gambling fraud.

E-commerce accounted for the largest share of fraud loss to no one’s surprise, mainly attributed to the two nationwide online shopping spree—Single’s Day and its sequel Double 12. The total loss increased fivefold in the fourth quarter compared to previous quarter.

The report noted that sex-related fraud is on the rise as well. Pornographic content is usually closely linked with telecom and online fraud cases. Among the four most notable fraud cases in 2017, two are sex-related fraud in which one single case managed to swindle victims out of RMB 600 million. Saucy sexual content primarily targets male online users. Data shows that over half of malicious web addresses are porn sites, and approximately one-third of smartphone viruses are caused via clicking or browsing online pornographic content, which hackers use as bait for online scams to illegally acquire personal information, bank account details, social network username, and password.

Tencent has cooperated with China’s law enforcement and financial regulators to fight cybercrime. Over 160 major cybercrime cases have been uncovered, which led to around 3,800 arrests last year. The Guardian Plan now already has over 11 million members.

“In 2017, Tencent helped the police crackdown the largest domestic platform that decoded verification codes through artificial intelligence, and further uncovered the entire underground illegal industrial chain, from database hacking and decoding verification codes to illegally selling citizens’ information and conducting online internet fraud,” said Pony Ma, Tencent co-founder and CEO, at Guardian Plan’s meeting (in Chinese) last month.