Phone Scam Causes Death of Would Be College Freshman

A girl has died after being conned out of her college fund. (Image: Secret China)
A girl has died after being conned out of her college fund. (Image: Secret China)

A college student from Shangdong, China who was scammed out of her $9,900 college fund died from the shock. Eighteen-year-old Xu Yuyu was about to enter college when a phone scam cost her $9,900 from her college fund, and subsequently, her life.

Xu was admitted to Nanjing University of Posts and Telecommunications with a high score of 568 on the National College Entrance Examination. In mid-August, she received a call informing her that she was awarded a scholarship of $2,600.

To receive the money, she first needed to deposit a $9,900 college fee into a designated account. She did as she was told, but soon discovered that it was a fraud.

She went to the police with her parents to report the case, and on the way home Xu fainted. She was rushed to the hospital where she died two days later. Xu’s mother disclosed that her daughter was healthy and fit prior to the scam.

It was also divulged that Xu Yuyu had received calls from the Education Department, which cautioned her about the scam calls. Xu’s incident aroused immediate discussions on social media. Why did this tragedy happen?

Inadequate protection of personal information

According to the 21st Century Business Herald, the personal information of students lacks security protection in China. Insiders of the data selling business reveal that student data is available “for any school, no matter primary, secondary, or tertiary, you name it, we’ve got it.” Detailed information can go as far as name, student number, sex, age, height, weight, contact information, and major.

In addition to student information, personal data gathered from electronic business platform such as Taobao,, and VIPS are also being sold. The current price is $3-$5 a data set while the peak price could go as high as $20-$30 a data set.

Cases like this are happening with greater frequency. Just after Xu’s death, a similar case happened to a young man. In total, China has witnessed five cases of students death related to telephone scams. But who is to blame to? quotes from the Ministry of Public Security on the number of phone and online scams. The number of cases surged over a five-year period. The number stood at about 100,000 cases in 2011, before climbing to 170,000 in 2012, 300,000 in 2013, and 400,000 in 2014. The number reached 590,000 cases in 2015 and amounted to $22.2 billion.

Edited by David Clapp.

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