Minors Tricked Into Scams Promising Gaming Curfew Workarounds

Underage players are only allowed three hours of playtime per week under new rules.

Police in central China’s Hunan province busted online scammers who swindled thousands of minors by setting up a website to help them bypass the government’s playtime curfew, Sixth Tone’s sister publication The Paper reported Tuesday.

The suspect, surnamed Tang, conspired with others to set up a fraudulent website, claiming minors could play uninterrupted games for a one-time fee ranging from 10 to 50 yuan ($2-$8), the media outlet reported, citing police in the city of Shaoyang. The scammers deceived nearly 3,000 minors, amassing over 86,000 yuan from them.

Since an online gaming anti-addiction system was introduced to curb growing video game addiction among young Chinese in 2007, authorities have only tightened restrictions to reduce screen time, which has been blamed for poor academic performance and increasing myopia rates among children. In one of the strictest provisions so far, authorities in August ordered gaming companies to only allow minors to play for an hour on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and official holidays.

“There is no real-name registration system for children, so when we called the parents, they were caught off guard,” Yang Jiafeng, a police officer in Shaoyang, told The Paper, adding elder cousins of some minors were footing the bill. “Kids should know the government’s anti-addiction system cannot be lifted by an individual with ease.”

The number of scammers exploiting minors has seen an increase, particularly over the past two years, with courts hearing some 20 related cases, according to China Judgments Online, an open database of legal cases. Last year, a court in the eastern Jiangsu province sentenced a scammer to three years in prison for tricking a minor into paying 170,000 yuan — it was unclear how the underage player had access to the money — to “bypass the anti-addiction system.” Continue to read the full article here

– This article originally appeared on Sixth Tone.