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Economic Crime Alert
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Sources from the Ministry of Public Security said yesterday that crimes involving economic activities have increased in the first six months compared with the same period of last year while other crimes have decreased.


The message is that the current economic boom does not just increase the chances for people to make money, but attracts greedy people to take advantage of systematic loopholes and people's greed to defraud them or embezzle public funds.


The other side of the coin is that public security departments have placed more emphasis on cracking down on economic crimes. As a result, otherwise hidden crimes have been uncovered and the number of cases has escalated.


That more than 90,000 fraudulent crimes were investigated nationwide in the first half of the year, up 4.4 percent on 2006, suggests these criminals are con. The total money lost in the fraud cases was 4.75 billion yuan (US$627 million).


But why are crooks able to cheat so many people? It is certainly not because the tricks are ingenious.


Rather, people are so eager to make a quick fortune they believe just about anything is possible, including getting a free lunch. And the fraudsters who illegally raise money appeal to the same greed, by promising higher returns.


The increase in financial fraud cases, business crimes and cases involving selling or making fake or shoddy commodities speaks volumes for the need to establish sound management and supervision systems in these sectors.


The public security ministry will open a website for the public to report economic crimes and has established a special task force to crack down on economic crime.


We have reason to believe the ministry's efforts will deter criminals.


Apart from establishing sound monitoring and supervisory mechanisms to prevent criminals from committing financial crimes inside financial institutions or corporations, the public, as the security ministry suggests, needs to be vigilant and not believe in things that seem too good to be true.


The decrease in other types of crime in the first six months is an encouraging sign that the security department has done a good job. An increase of some 80,000 police officers in rural villages nationwide has contributed to the improved public security situation - the ministry did the right thing by establishing a crime prevention network at the grass-roots level.


(China Daily August 15, 2007)

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