Individual Frauds in China: Exploring the Impact and Response to Telecommunication Network Fraud and Pig Butchering Scams

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This study examines fraud against Chinese individuals, a topic that has been limited in the English- language literature. It aims to understand the impact and response to Telecommunication Network Fraud (TNF) and Pig Butchering Scams in China. Using a mixed-methods approach, the study collected 1144 online survey responses and conducted 25 interviews, including 15 fraud victims, 9 law enforcement officers, and a bank employee.
The research findings unveil that in China, fraud victims are increasingly falling prey to remote online scams. Such scams significantly impact victims' economic and psychological well-being. The consequences of fraud vary among individuals, yet the crucial role of family and societal support is evident. Telecommunications and Network Fraud (TNF) emerges as the predominant form of fraud, typically executed through organised criminal networks intertwined with grey markets. This multifaceted landscape involves scams that masquerade as enticing "money-making opportunities," exploiting victims' trust. Amidst this backdrop, the involvement of grey industries like personal data leaks and money laundering escalates the success rate of fraud and complicates fund retrieval efforts. Notably, schemes like the pig butchering scam lure victims with romantic pursuits but ultimately entrap them in fraudulent online gambling or investment schemes.
China's law enforcement showcases a zero-tolerance stance. The government has implemented new legal policies and established diverse anti-fraud centres in recent years, emphasising preventive strategies. Wide-ranging awareness campaigns curb the rampant prevalence of fraud.
However, due to border constraints, apprehending international fraudsters remains a significant challenge. Furthermore, Chinese police grapple with a high caseload and limited manpower. The intricate interplay between law enforcement, victims, and grey industries further complicates the situation. Collective efforts beyond law enforcement are pivotal in resolving the issue of fraud.
In summary, this study, focused on examining fraud phenomena in China, highlights the prevalence of the telecommunication network fraud, with a special emphasis on the severe impact of a specific type of fraud known as the pig butchering scam within the realm of telecommunications fraud. Consequently, the research conducts an investigation into online telecommunication fraud and the pig butchering scam within the context of China.
Date of Award19 Dec 2023
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Portsmouth
SupervisorMark Button (Supervisor), David Shepherd (Supervisor) & Dean Robert Blackbourn (Supervisor)

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