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Chinese Authority Warns of Fake Digital Yuan App Scam

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) in China has issued a cautionary notice regarding new fraudulent activities revolving around counterfeit digital yuan applications.

As per a recent MIIT social media update, these deceptive applications mimic the official digital yuan platform, luring users into downloading and engaging with them through enticing “promotional” offers.

One such counterfeit app, named “Digital Yuan Test Version,” bears a logo resembling the official app’s and features a slightly altered user interface. However, distinguishing the fake from the genuine is possible by scrutinizing its package name, version, or the MD5 message-digest algorithm.

For instance, the official app’s package name is cn.gov.pbc.dcep, whereas the “Test Version” omits the governmental identifiers and appears as com.ecny.ecny2.

Fake App Scheme Break-Down

Presenting logos, user interfaces, and slogans akin to the authentic counterpart, these counterfeit applications often bear resemblance to pyramid schemes, promising “dividends” to users who share the software. Exploiting the e-CNY promotions, scammers mimic “national welfare” distributions.

Once enticed users download these fraudulent apps, they’re prompted to provide extensive personal information under the guise of “eligibility verification,” fostering a false perception of legal compliance.

These apps might inquire whether users have previously engaged in similar programs and received digital yuan funds, deliberately prolonging the waiting period to ensnare them.

Ultimately, despite the presence of customer service pages, users may discover no deposits in their wallets or encounter difficulties withdrawing the purported “funds” sent by the scammers.

In attempts to address alleged “technical issues,” users are directed to download messaging apps other than commonly used ones, leading them further into the deception. Instead of resolving issues, the “customer service” ends up soliciting money rather than providing assistance.

Increasing Digital Yuan-Related Crimes

While users can mitigate the risk of falling victim to such scams by exclusively downloading apps from verified platforms, criminal activities have continued to rise alongside the increasing popularity of China’s central bank digital currency (CBDC).

In January, the Yangpu District People’s Court of Shanghai rendered a verdict in the first instance of money laundering involving digital yuan and cryptocurrency. Concurrently, China is exploring the expansion of real-world applications for e-CNY.

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