Male scammers have been wearing “fake skin” and prosthetic breasts to con men into taking part in nude video chats.
The con-men then video their victims’ naked bodies so that they can blackmail them.
The bizarre crime is sufficiently widespread in China that police have had to issue an official warning to men in the country.
An official police video, published on Chinese social media network Weibo warns "Boys, don't chat nude”.
In the video, Chinese police demonstrate just how convincing the “fake women” can be.
The video shows a fresh-faced young woman wearing just a bra and knickers.
But then shockingly the “woman” pulls her skin away from her breasts… revealing a male chest beneath.
Then “she” pulls off her face-mask to reveal that she’s in fact a man.
The video then cuts to footage of two men holding up sets of the “fake skin” disguises.
A voice-over from a female police officer says: “You think what you think is what you think?”
She adds: "Boys, don't chat nude. It’s fraud”.
Originally posted by police in eastern Zhejiang province, the clip was shared by police social accounts across China.
Police warned that fraudsters used the convincing disguises to lull men into revealing personal information which can be used in identity theft and blackmail.
The crooks can spend weeks grooming their victims before inviting them into the “naked” chats, and often encourage them to download what appears to be another video chat app, but is in fact spyware designed to harvest their phone and email contacts list.
The crime has become increasingly prevalent during the coronavirus pandemic, and lonely men have been cooped up in lockdown.
The Guangdong Public Security Department reported that in the first six months of 2020, they had received more than 9,000 complaints of blackmail relating to so-called “nude chats”.
A police report said that at least 10 separate blackmail gangs had been identified, and 86 offenders had been arrested.
Some 2,000 victims had been identified and over £2 million is known to have been extorted by the crooks, although other victims may have been too embarrassed to come forward..
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