China’s Online Sex Scam that Many Fall Prey To

A man lost nearly US$1 million in few minutes due to a nude chat scam. Discover how these scams work and how to stay away from them.
With the rapid growth of the Internet, digital fraud has accelerated and grown even more sophisticated. Nude chat, a scam that mainly targets men, has been one of China's most rampant telecom frauds. As prostitution is illegal in China, many men resort to online hookups to satisfy their sexual desires. This makes them the perfect target for nude chat scams.
According to the official Weibo account, from December 2020 to January 2021, the police station in Jiangsu Province has received 243 reports of nude chat scamsChina Judgements Online announced that among the cases, 41 of them involve sextortion, and at least 2,000 people were extorted for over RMB 24.7 million (US$3.9 million).  

Source: Kalika News
How does nude chat scams work?
In a nude chat scam, scammers impersonate attractive women and explicitly chat with the male victims. The nude video call will be conducted on an app, where the scammers can screen record, retrieve the victim’s personal information, and use it to blackmail the victims. Once the victims give in, the sextortion will turn into an endless vicious cycle. 
According to a case published by Jiangsu News, a man named Zhang added an online female friend through WeChat. The woman started flirting with Zhang and convinced him to download "Moko", a social app where they had their nude video call.
Upon ending the video call, the woman blackmailed Zhang with his naked pictures and recordings, accompanied by a list of his close contacts. Afterwards, she threatened Zhang to transfer money immediately. Otherwise, she would send the video to his friends and relatives, ruining his reputation.  
Zhang started to panic, and so he transferred RMB 100,000 through WeChat. Soon after, Zhang was continuously blackmailed for hush money and various other reasons. In the end, he spent a total of RMB 630,000 (US$98,437.5). Feeling helpless, Zhang finally reported the case to the police. 

Is it possible to outsmart the scammers?  
Although the scam is simple, it has been around China for many years with many successful frauds. This led to some people thinking about ways to outsmart the scammers. For example, the scam would not work if the victim only sent naked pictures without showing his face or using a phone number without any personal contact. Some even think they are poor enough to be away from fraud. 
However, according to the information collected by @Jiangning Public Security Online, the scammers have their system of finding a perfect target. Therefore, they will not waste time on targets that do not fulfil their requirements.

The harsh truth is that the videos sent by the scammers are prerecorded. Those attractive women chatting with the victims are, in fact, men. They use fake skin to pose as naked women during the nude video calls. In addition, most scammers work in groups with a clear work allocation. It is therefore impossible to trick the scammers and benefit from the sexual services they provide.

Women victims exist too
What is even more shocking is that women may also fall victim to nude chat scams. Although more women are more likely to be blackmailed by their former partners with intimate photos or videos, there is still a tiny proportion of women extorted by strangers. According to SMGNEWS, several women in Jilin Province reported to the police that an online friend threatened them in March. The scammer lied that he has a sexual disorder that needs nude chats as a form of treatment. As the woman gave in to his request, the scammer recorded the naked video call and threatened the victims for money. 
Are the police doing anything? 
Most scammers have sneaked to other countries with Southeast Asia as their main destination to escape from China's crackdown. However, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Chinese police cannot go out of China to arrest them, while the overseas police have no time to deal with these scammers. 
Many victims pour out their experiences of being scammed online, but few of them think of filing a police report. Based on the online discussion forums, turning to the police seems to be a last resort. With privacy being in the hands of scammers, many victims are afraid of being exposed. As a result, most of them treat it as a hard-learned lesson instead.
How to stay away from nude chat scams?  
From an individual’s perspective, online users are advised to stay vigilant and avoid naked chat of all forms. Some individuals like to make new friends through the “shake” function on Wechat or social networking apps like “Soul” and “MOMO”. Extra precaution is needed on these platforms.

Governments also need to strengthen both the publicity and the crackdown. They should find a way to raise public awareness of nude chat scams. Some communities and schools make banners on nude chat scam headlines and hang them in the public area: "In this community, XX was cheated of RMB XX because of a nude chat scam." Such banners can warn people to stay away from nude chat while informing the public that telecom frauds exist in their daily lives. Therefore, no one should try to push their luck when it comes to nude chat.