China's industry and technology regulator said that it would intercept any overseas phone calls using a number that is the same as one used by the public security and procuratorial offices, by the end of the year, to increase its efforts to combat telecommunication fraud.
The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) told the news website thepaper.cn on Wednesday that some wrongdoers had been copying the numbers of government organizations to carry out fraud over the phone, and to get tough on these illegal activities, it will come up with measures to block those phone numbers "to ensure people's privacy and security."
The ministry has broadened its surveillance and interception system and has intercepted 116 million fraudulent overseas calls since it started in March, which protected 22,000 potential victims and saved up to 98 million yuan ($ 14.79 million) in possible losses.
In addition to its surveillance and intercept activities, the ministry said that it used texts and other means to warn people about the scams and it has cooperated with other government bodies, including the Ministry of Public Security (MPS), in cracking down on telecommunications fraud and raising public awareness.
"Intercepting overseas numbers does not present any real technical difficulties for the government since it only requires the establishment of a pool of applicable numbers," Xiang Ligang, CEO of cctime.com, a Chinese telecom portal, told the Global Times.
The government has said it is giving priority to the telecom fraud crackdown and has done a great deal in that area, ever since the Xu Yuyu case, which shocked society in 2016, according to Xiang.
Xu, who had been accepted by the Nanjing University of Posts and Telecommunications, was told by an anonymous person that she could get a (non-existent) scholarship if she would send 9,900 yuan, money she had set aside for tuition, to a third party. When she discovered the truth of the scam she suffered a cardiac and respiratory arrest and died in August 2016.
In response, the MPS instituted a special action to fight against telecom fraud that same year, with more than 88,000 suspects being identified by last August, the Xinhua News Agency reported on September 3.