The Supreme Court rendered the 106-Tai-Shang-1338 Criminal Decision of May 31, 2017 (hereinafter, the “Decision”), holding that since a fraud committed via communications tools such as radio or television, electronic communications or the Internet is more severe than a typical fraud in the harm to society, it is necessary to intensify the penalties
According to the facts underlying this Decision, the original trial court found in its decision that the Defendants jointly committed an offense of obtaining property by fraud through dissemination to the public via the Internet and an attempted offense, involving at least three joint offenders, of obtaining property by fraud via the Internet through dissemination to the public. Dissatisfied, the Defendants appealed.
According to the Decision, the offense of aggravated fraud, which is added to Article 339-4 of the Criminal Code, means an offense of fraud under Article 339 of the Criminal Code which is committed through dissemination to the public by means of communication tools such as radio or television, electronic communications or other media. Since fraudulent schemes implemented through concurrent or long-term transmission of messages to a non-specific public by means of communication such as telecommunications and the Internet in modern society often lead to a large number of defrauded citizens, and such non-specific and massive fraud usually is more severe in terms of its harm to society and extent of impact, it is necessary to intensify the penalties.
It was further held in the Decision that the gang of fraudsters the Defendants were associated with, as determined by the original decision, committed crime first by contacting systems operators of bulk SMS systems via the Internet before such systems operators transmitted fraudulent voice mail messages through bulk SMS to telephone numbers within selected ranges. After people in mainland China who had received the voice mails called back as instructed, such phone calls were subsequently forwarded to first-tier, second-tier and third-tier personnel (impersonating as customer service staff of post offices, police officers and prosecutors, respectively, in mainland China) of the gang of fraudsters. Since this constituted the use of the Internet to commit an offense of obtaining property through fraud via dissemination of information to the public and the original finding was not illegal, the Defendants’ appeal was rejected.