Censors Delete Tale of Police Overreach in Anti-Fraud Case

Last week, Weibo censors took down a post by a popular food blogger describing how all her bank accounts were frozen due to a local police department’s arbitrary and unprofessional “anti-fraud” case work. Her Kafka-esque account described how her accounts were shut down without any explanation, leaving her forced to “do all of the detective work” herself—only to learn that she was under investigation for fraud under the barest of pretenses. Her account is but the latest example of anti-fraud overreach. In April, CDT published a translation of a man’s account of being threatened by anti-fraud police who also froze his accounts. CDT has translated an archived version of this latest incident in full

For the first time in my life, I’ve had all my bank accounts frozen. The absurdities I’ve witnessed during the past three days have made me realize just how amateurish and unsafe our society is!

At 9:00 on the evening of May 13, I was shocked to find that my Everbright Bank card balance was zero. A notice in the app instructed me to visit my bank, but at the time, I didn’t give it much thought. 

The next morning, I went to an Everbright Bank branch, where I was told that my account had been frozen—on orders from the Shaoxing city, Keqiao district Public Security Bureau (PSB). That was all the information the bank had access to. They couldn’t provide me with any other documentation, not even the contact information for the Keqiao PSB. 

By then, I was being inundated with text messages from my other banks: all of my other accounts were being frozen, too. 

I looked up the Keqiao PSB’s number online and called it. After being transferred to a few different people, I spoke to someone who was able to confirm that my bank accounts had been frozen, but they refused to reveal any more information. 

Instead, they asked, “Why have you been committing fraud?”

That really pissed me off.

But I had an important meeting that afternoon, so I had to hang up. 

During the meeting, I reached out to friends in Shaoxing, asking them for their help in figuring out what had happened. 

Then things got even worse. My credit cards were frozen and I could no longer log into my mobile banking apps—all I could see were notices advising me to visit the bank in person. 

By the afternoon, things started to get clearer: I’d recently received a tuition payment from a student’s parents. The parents’ account must have had some sort of problem, and it had somehow affected me. 

I called the Keqiao PSB again. They finally said: “If you’re really that anxious, just go to the Huashe police substation in Keqiao district and clear it up in person.” 

But who was I supposed to talk to there, and which department should I go to? They stubbornly refused to answer any further questions. 

On the afternoon of the 15th, I went to the Huashe police substation in Keqiao, Shaoxing. I spoke to all of the police and security officials in the reception area and gave them my personal details, but nobody could find any information on my case. 

The duty officer asked me to wait outside and went back into the main office to inquire about my case. At last, a very young officer came out and confirmed that he had frozen my bank accounts. He asked me if I knew a Mrs. ___ Lin, and I said I’d heard of her. 

He said that on the evening of the 13th, this “Mrs. Lin” reported that she had been defrauded. It was at her behest that my bank accounts had been frozen. 

Soon after that, while I was driving back to Ningbo, Mrs. Lin callled me to apologize. She was, as I had thought, the parent of one of my students. 

It turns out that after reporting that she’d fallen victim to a phone scam on the 13th, the police had combed through all of her recent bank statements while asking her rapid-fire questions: “Is this the scammer? How about this account?” To which she replied, “No, I don’t recognize this account … and I don’t know that other account, either.”

That’s how I was implicated: she didn’t recognize my account, so the police put a freeze on it.

At that point, I couldn’t hold back from cursing a bit. I told her that instead of explaining it to me, she should reach out to the police immediately and get them to unfreeze my accounts. It’s now the morning of the 16th, and as I write this post, my accounts have still not been unfrozen. 

A few final thoughts: 

A beat cop can unilaterally freeze all your bank accounts. If you call to ask why, they won’t even tell you—if you want to get to the bottom of it, you have to do all of the detective work yourself! It’s a shocking feeling of vulnerability and insecurity!

So-called “fraud-prevention” work rests entirely on one person’s accusation. If some woman says an account belongs to a scammer, they’ll freeze it! 

You could send your enemies a penny each, and then report that you’d been scammed, and all of their accounts would be frozen. 

These past few days have had a horrible effect on my life and work. During my busiest time of the year, I had to rush over to Keqiao police station, which delayed my work and other important meetings.

None of this matters to the people with the power to freeze your account. From their perspective, they’re just “working in the best interests of the people and the public.”

That’s the stock phrase they use when responding to any and all complaints about the arbitrary freezing of your account. It seems to imply that in their eyes, you’re not a person, nor are you a member of “the public.” It’s hard to have a conversation with people like that—it’s like we’re on two different channels. [Chinese]

In 2023, China launched a “people’s war” against fraud. Telephone scams are common in China. Many of them are launched from Myanmar, Cambodia, and Laos, where criminal syndicates run sophisticated online and telephone scams often manned by trafficked victims of previous scams. In January 2024, state media crowed about the results of the campaign, announcing that nearly 400,000 cases of telephone fraud had been “cracked” by local public security bureaus and that 41,000 suspected fraudsters in Myanmar had been transferred to China, “effectively eradicating” several major criminal syndicates. Some aspects of the campaign seemed excessive, including warnings issued by police from three separate provinces urging people to block all overseas phone calls. Rights groups have also warned that Tibetans have been forced to download an anti-fraud app that researchers revealed can also be used for surveillance purposes


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