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Market for bogus WeChat accounts still alive and well despite crackdown on illegal practice
Published on: 2019-02-28
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032WeChat, is operated by Chinese internet giant Tencent Holdings.

034Would you sell your social media account to earn some cash? Some users of WeChat, China’s dominant messaging and social media platform, are still doing this in the black market despite a recent crackdown. The topic of “how much is your WeChat account” has gone viral on Weibo following a report that a resident from the central Chinese city of Wuhan was scammed out of 84,000 yuan (US$12,400) after he was added as a WeChat friend by a stranger and pulled into a bogus investment group. A month-old WeChat account sells for around 55 yuan but older accounts can sell for more. A two year-old WeChat account with real-name registration sells for around 230 yuan, according to a now-defunct website called Haowai.com, which describes itself as a platform for selling and buying WeChat accounts.

031“WeChat firmly resists this illegal business [of buying and selling WeChat accounts]. It is difficult for these people to apply for accounts after our crackdown,” said WeChat in a statement. “Bogus registrations have been reduced by 50 per cent since 2017 and our crackdown has driven up the cost of such illegal trading.” “Some people buy these accounts to click stories published on official WeChat accounts, [which is currently a major channel for Chinese people to obtain their information and news]. Higher page views will bring more adverts [to the sites viewed],” according to a report from China’s state-run Procuratorial Daily. “Other people buy these WeChat accounts for gambling purposes, to spread pornography or to conduct financial frauds.”

030In May 2018, a criminal ring from China’s northwest Gansu province was found guilty of committing frauds on WeChat worth over 2 million yuan. In June last year, another WeChat fraud case involving more than one billion yuan occurred in Guangdong province, according to the Procuratorial Daily. WeChat is operated by Chinese internet giant Tencent Holdings. It has become China’s everyday mobile app with over one billion monthly active users who chat, play games, shop, read news, pay for meals and post their thoughts and pictures.

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