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86th INTERPOL General Assembly

Beijing, 26 – 29 September 2017

INTERPOL’s General Assembly is the Organization’s leading annual global police gathering, bringing together the most senior police officials from 190 member countries to address a wide range of global security issues.

Underlining its commitment to international police cooperation as an INTERPOL member country, China is hosting the Organization’s 86th General Assembly this year in its capital Beijing, two decades after hosting the 64th session in 1995.

Police leaders from all continents are gathering in Beijing to review region-specific crime and security concerns from an international policing perspective, focusing on crime areas ranging from human trafficking to terrorism, transnational organized crime and cybercrime.

One form of cybercrime which particularly affects China is wire fraud, or social engineering fraud.  The Beijing General Assembly will provide Chinese police authorities with a valuable opportunity to share experiences with experts from around the world and pave the way for tackling this crime form which creates thousands of victims across China every year.   

Social engineering fraud

“Telecommunications fraud is a major problem in Asia and becoming increasingly widespread across all continents, with criminals targeting massive numbers of innocent victims. It is impossible for any individual organization to address the global threat posed by cyber and financial crime in isolation, and the situation is deteriorating.”

Mr Meng Hongwei
Head INTERPOL Beijing
Vice Minister, Public Security
INTERPOL President 2016 – 2020

Social engineering fraud is a broad term that refers to scams through a range of means – including by telephone or over Internet – to manipulate or trick people into sharing confidential personal information which can then be used for financial gain by the criminals involved.

Information and communication technology, including social engineering, is developing at an alarming rate worldwide.  Over the past decade, thousands of Chinese citizens have fallen victim to this kind of fraud, resulting in multiple cases of bankruptcy, destitution and even suicide. Victims range from teachers to farmers, manual labourers, and students, with the elderly being particularly vulnerable.

Leaving no stone unturned

According to Chinese police authorities, over the past 18 months, the national police has been carrying out regular operations across China, targeting clandestine call centres and the organized crime groups behind them. 

During this period, Chinese police have investigated more than 119,000 online fraud cases resulting in the arrest of over 88,000 suspects from 7,531 criminal gangs operating in 11,000 call centres across China.

Although China’s efforts are having an impact, social engineering fraud continues, resulting in new victims every day.  Criminals constantly change the way they work, often operating from outside China, presenting relentless new challenges for China’s national police.

Expanding China’s investigative scope

With social engineering criminals stealing money from China (country A), transferring it to country B, withdrawing it in country C and seeking refuge in country D, it is impossible to investigate this crime without taking investigations beyond national borders.

Recognizing that no country can tackle this kind of crime at national level alone, China regularly turns to INTERPOL for support, taking part in regional and global police operations, and assisting other member countries in their investigations.

Taking Chinese police investigations beyond national borders
INTERPOL National Central Bureau in Beijing

INTERPOL Beijing cooperates with all INTERPOL member countries on international investigations and police operations, addressing a wide range of crime areas, including social engineering fraud.   

Chinese police officers travel regularly to INTERPOL member countries to work with police forces on investigations and operations.  From 2015 – 2016, INTERPOL Beijing dealt with more than 4,000 requests for law enforcement cooperation involving police forces in all continents.

December 2016: Great Wall Operation

Triggered by intelligence from INTERPOL Beijing alerting INTERPOL Madrid to large numbers of suspicious telephone calls made to China from Spain, Spanish police carried out a nationwide sting operation on clandestine call centers resulting in the arrest of more than 230 suspects.

Contacting victims by telephone or via messaging apps, the suspects – who were all Chinese nationals – would pose as police officers and convince victims in China that criminals were trying to access their bank accounts.  They would encourage them to transfer money to designated bank accounts to help police track the criminals.

With hundreds of officers taking part in the operation, including a task force of Chinese police officers sent especially by INTERPOL Beijing, simultaneous search operations were conducted in Alicante, Barcelona, Madrid and other Spanish towns. 

Forensic evidence seized at the 13 targeted call centres included computers, hardware and software and data relating to over 800 cases, which have generated further investigations. INTERPOL’s General Secretariat published internationally wanted Red Notices for each of the 237 telephone fraud suspects.

Operation Great Wall – the Chinese leg of INTERPOL’s Operation First Light 2016 –  was successful not only in identifying and dismantling the syndicates behind social engineering frauds, but also in building effective working relationships between Spanish and Chinese law enforcement colleagues, underlining their joint commitment to international police cooperation.

China is proud to bring the world’s police community together at the foot of the world’s longest wall, in one of the four great ancient capitals of China.

We are looking forward to working with experts from around the globe, sharing investigative experiences and together identifying ways to address 21st century law enforcement challenges in ways best suited to our specific law enforcement needs and capabilities.

With police forces operating in 190 countries, only the world’s largest police organization has the global resources it takes to tackle crime from a truly international standpoint.

Mr Meng Hongwei
Head INTERPOL Beijing
Vice Minister, Public Security
INTERPOL President 2016 - 2020

86th INTERPOL General Assembly

Taking a stance on global security

In bringing together the world’s most senior police officials under one roof for the 86th INTERPOL General Assembly, China is offering the international police community a secure, exclusive venue to address a wide range of crime areas together and pave the way for confronting them globally.

This year’s INTERPOL General Assembly in Beijing will serve as a critical forum for police forces from across the world to share best practices, set comprehensive police strategies and arrange police operations to tackle regional crime from a global perspective.

INTERPOL’s annual General Assembly reemphasizes the vision of the world’s leaders who founded the Organization, which was to bring together police and law enforcement officers from as many countries as possible to address existing and emerging crime threats together. 

INTERPOL has solid experience in coordinating multilateral operations

“INTERPOL has solid experience in coordinating multilateral operations across regions and continents, pooling global resources for effective police investigations.  With its secure global police communications system I-24/7 and its vast database of criminal intelligence and internationally wanted people, INTERPOL is a unique platform for international law enforcement cooperation, the only one with the ability to bring together police forces from across the globe for global and regional law enforcement operations.

INTERPOL has a crucial role to play in tackling transnational crime in general, including social engineering fraud.  The very nature of these crimes requires an international response which is why INTERPOL is ideally and uniquely placed to assist member countries provide an effective response.”

Mr Meng Hongwei
Head INTERPOL Beijing
Vice Minister, Public Security
INTERPOL President 2016 - 2020

China has always been a dynamic member of the organization

“China has always been a dynamic member of the organization, contributing actively to the Organization’s vision and mission of making the world a safer place through quality international police cooperation.

Hosting the world’s largest and most prestigious law enforcement event this year in our homeland is a privilege for the people of China and the two million police officers who serve them.”

Mr Meng Hongwei
Head INTERPOL Beijing
Vice Minister, Public Security
INTERPOL President 2016 - 2020

Meng Hongwei, INTERPOL President

Sharing information through INTERPOL

“By sharing information through INTERPOL, police can overcome the challenges in investigating international telephone fraud, such as criminals frequently changing locations or IP addresses, and build working relationships to prevent similar criminal activity in the future.”

Mr Meng Hongwei
Head INTERPOL Beijing
Vice Minister, Public Security
INTERPOL President 2016 - 2020

INTERPOL’s Operation First Light 2016

INTERPOL’s Operation First Light 2016, targeting a variety of social engineering frauds and related financial crimes, resulted in the arrest of 1,500 people worldwide in one two-month period alone. In Spain police closed 13 call centres in Madrid, Barcelona and Alicante which had scammed thousands of victims in Asia out of some EUR 16 million.