"Internet celebrity" detained over online extortion
CHANGSHA, Aug. 16 (Xinhua) -- Chinese police have arrested a man who allegedly used his influence on social media to extort money.
Police in central China's Hunan Province said they had launched a criminal investigation into Chen Jieren, director of the board of Beijing Hualin Management and Consulting Co. Ltd., for allegations including extortion and illegal business operations.
Chen was a self-proclaimed "internet celebrity," who built a massive following on Chinese social media, the police said. Investigation has showed he had published more than 3,000 disturbing articles, for clickbait and verbal attacks, for instance, and engaged in illegal activities such as blackmailing, accumulating tens of millions of yuan over the years.
The police source said Chen's activities exhibited features of an online criminal gang, with the participation of his ex-wife, brothers, and a mistress.
The victims of the blackmailing include business owners, government officials, and other individuals. Multiple victims said they knew the articles Chen used to blackmail were fake, but they were willing to give away the money to avoid trouble.
Chen fabricated his college diploma and status as a university researcher. He whitewashed his experience of being fired by several media outlets for involvement in concocting fake news, according to the police source.
"When Chen found that writing could be a lucrative business, he used it to make big money," said his mistress, who was only identified by her surname, Liu. "He knew how to write sensational pieces."
Chen had confessed and regretted his acts, said the police source.