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China detains more than 1,500 in text spam crackdown

BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese authorities said on Tuesday they have detained 1,530 people in a crackdown on the use of fake telecommunication base stations to send spam text messages to mobile telephones, a persistent problem in the world's largest cellphone market.

The Ministry of Public Security said that the campaign, which began in February, had resulted in the seizure of more than 2,600 fake base stations and identification of 3,540 suspected criminal acts.

Fake base stations are used by criminals to send spam messages to nearby mobile users using fake telephone numbers or disguised as messages from official sources, like government offices, the ministry said.

One of the criminal groups discovered, in the northeastern province of Liaoning, is suspected of sending more than 200 million spam messages.

The spam messages which plague Chinese cellphone users range from phishing attempts to access bank accounts and dubious real estate offers to pornography, which is illegal in China.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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