By Li Qian | 2012-10-27 | NEWSPAPER EDITION
POLICE suggest the ever growing numbers of handset users close social-networking apps when in public over concerns they are putting themselves at risk to theft, fraud and even sexual attacks.
The apps, usually featuring location-based services, or LBS, allows users to track friends or search for a random woman or man in the same city who you would like to meet. Unwary users often instantly pinpoint themselves and disclose personal information, making them vulnerable, Xinmin Evening News reported.
Tencent's Weixin, one of the country's most well-known smartphone messaging apps, has more than 200 million users, which means it also attracts people with bad intentions.
Police in Hangzhou City, capital of Zhejiang Province, told the newspaper they have received 100 Weixin-related cases this year. Wang Chen, a police officer in Changzhou City of Jiangsu Province, was quoted as saying the highly popular app makes prostitution easier.
Apple's well-received Siri, a voice-activated personal assistant app, has also been plagued by a sex scandal after it was found last week to have helped a user locate 15 brothels in Kunming City, capital of Yunnan Province. Call girls can even post nude pictures to entice customers, the report said.
These fast-growing social apps, most of which are free on Apple's iOS and Google's Android operating systems, have burst onto the scene and quickly become popular among Chinese youth. Apps featuring match-making functions are especially popular.
Though Apple's iPhone warns only those over the age of 17 are allowed to download such apps, no departments or authorities are assigned to supervise them. Users also do not need to provide their real identity.
In the popular LBS chat app Momo, a user can follow others and go through their personal details without their knowledge.
Perpetrators thus find there are many opportunities to commit crimes via such apps since it's relatively easy and they feel they can get away with it. However, few users realize criminals are targeting them.
Most of the victims are young women or teen girls who want to find Mr Right, police said.
Last December, a 32-year-old man in Ningbo city looked to date college girls via Weixin. He successfully lured seven for dates and after gaining their trust, he drove them to remote parking lots and raped them. In June, he was sentenced to eight years and six months in jail.