How much is 1.9 million yuan? Just under US$280,000. Translated from today’s Southern Metropolis Daily:
3-day bill comes to 1.9 million yuan
Something weird happened to Mr Ding, a company manager in Shenzhen. He hadn’t left China, but his cell phone generated roaming fees in three countries. In just three days, the bill reached 1.9 million yuan. Even more peculiar: these roaming calls were dialed from Ukraine, Russia and Belgium, with calls going out from all three countries within 24 seconds. Mr Ding had a GoTone account, and he immediately responded to China Mobile. China Mobile is currently investigating.
Phone was lost
Mr Ding is a company manager in Nanshan District in Shenzhen. His Gotone mobile phone account was opened by his company, which also pays the bill. The call fees are usually deducted directly from the company bank account. On October 27, Mr Ding’s colleague, Ms Yang, discovered 319,000 yuan had gone from the company account, all of it deducted to pay Mr Ding’s mobile phone bill.
What phone calls could have possibly have cost 310,000 yuan? Ms Yang immediately contacted China Mobile. When she received the itemized bill, Ms Yang nearly jumped out of her skin. The bill wasn’t 310,000 yuan. It was 1,899,348 yuan. All the items on the bill were calls from Ukraine, Russia and Belgium and they were all generated in the three days from October 24 to 26.
What Ms Yang found hardest to understand was that Mr Ding, the owner of the phone, was attending a meeting in Shanghai. When had he left the country? At 1.30 pm on October 26, Mr Ding called from the meeting in Shanghai and told Ms Yang he had lost his phone. At about 2.50 pm, Ms Yang went to transfer the number to a new SIM card. “The phone was only gone for just over an hour and the time period doesn’t match up with the fees which were from October 24-26.” Ms Yang went to the Gaoxin police station to report the matter. But the police said the bill hadn’t been stamped with a seal, so they couldn’t accept the case for now.
Calls dialed before the last one ended
Ms Yang printed these call records, filling 77 sheets of A4 paper. Each sheet had 75 records, adding up to a total of 5,784 calls, one every 10 to 20 seconds.
The first dubious item on the bill was a call from the Ukraine at nine seconds after 4.18 pm on October 24. It lasted 37 seconds and cost 4.99 yuan. The last call was made at 10 seconds after 2.48 pm on October 26. It lasted 626 seconds at a cost of 373.89 yuan.
The longest call lasted 7,366 seconds and there were many others for 3,599 and 3,598 seconds. Inexplicably, according to the bill, one SIM card was able to dial another number before the last call had ended. The longest call, for example, began at 5.59.59 pm on October 25 and lasted 7,366 seconds. But the next call on the bill began at 6.00.09 pm on October 25. There were only 10 seconds between the start of each call.
Aside from the time of the calls, the places they were made from were also hard to fathom. The vast majority of the calls were from Ukraine. Next was Russia. A minority were from Belgium. According to the bill, within 24 seconds, this cell phone had made calls from all three countries.
Mobile company investigating
After Ms Yang had discussed the matter with China Mobile, on Wednesday afternoon (Oct. 29), the phone company returned 319,000 yuan to the bank account. But on Thursday afternoon, when she phoned the 10086 customer service again, she was told the cell phone’s outstanding fees were now 2,218,800 yuan. Ms Yang says this amount was run up after China Mobile returned the 310,000 yuan and they had already stopped using this number.
On Friday afternoon, China Mobile told the reporter it was investigating the problem of overseas calls and would provide information as soon as it had the results of that investigation. Yesterday, at 11.48 am, Ms Yang said the phone company had not yet replied.