Prisoner Conducts Multi-Million Dollar Scam from Behind Bars: A Wake-Up Call for Prison Management

The Need for Strengthened Regulations and Improved Oversight in Correctional Facilities

Telecom fraud is a well-known issue that has plagued society for years. In recent times, China has intensified its efforts to combat telecom and online scams. However, a bizarre case in Heilongjiang province has shed light on a unique form of fraud, where the perpetrator was none other than a prisoner serving time in a local prison. This article explores the shocking details of the case and highlights the urgent need for improved prison management and stricter regulations.

The Unprecedented Scam:

Reports have emerged from Mudanjiang Prison in Heilongjiang province, revealing that an inmate named Zhang Junbo orchestrated a scam amounting to a staggering 3,884,000 yuan ($600,000). Zhang deceived his victim, Ms. Wang, by promising to reduce his sentence and influence various institutions on her behalf. What makes this case even more astonishing is that Ms. Wang was not the only victim. Between November 2013 and January 2016, Zhang, using a mobile phone, contacted other victims, including Li, Li’s wife, Shi, and Wang, fabricating stories about handling commendation materials and influencing court decisions. In total, he defrauded them of 751,000 yuan ($116,000). It is worth noting that Li’s wife and Shi were also inmates in the same prison as Zhang.

The Prison’s Oversight Failure:

It is astounding that Zhang managed to carry out two separate scams while serving his sentence. The second scam, which led to his initial arrest and subsequent confinement in a high-security cell pending trial, occurred under strict supervision. According to the Prison Law and the Code of Conduct for Prisoners, inmates like Zhang are strictly prohibited from using communication tools such as mobile phones. However, Zhang not only used a mobile phone but also convinced prison guards to smuggle money and prohibited items for him. One would expect that prisons, equipped with full-frequency jammers and other interference devices, would effectively prevent inmates from communicating with the outside world. However, the events surrounding Zhang’s multi-million dollar scam highlight significant management loopholes in Mudanjiang Prison.

The Role of Prison Officials:

The Prison Law explicitly states that prison guards must strictly adhere to the constitution and the law, be loyal to their duties, enforce the law impartially, maintain discipline, and uphold integrity. Furthermore, they are prohibited from soliciting, accepting, or misappropriating the property of prisoners and their relatives. However, in Zhang’s case, several public officials failed to uphold these principles of integrity. Moreover, it is astonishing that Zhang was able to successfully carry out his second scam while being held in solitary confinement. This raises serious concerns about the integrity and effectiveness of the prison’s management.

The Urgent Need for Reform:

The Zhang Junbo case serves as a wake-up call for the Chinese prison system. It is imperative that relevant laws and regulations, especially those governing the conduct of prison officials, are not merely symbolic but effectively enforced. Additionally, the installation of full-frequency jammers and the use of mobile detection devices should be considered to enhance the control and confiscation of prohibited items within correctional facilities. It is crucial to address the management loopholes in Mudanjiang Prison and prevent similar incidents from occurring in the future.


The shocking case of Zhang Junbo’s multi-million dollar scam from behind bars highlights the urgent need for improved prison management and stricter regulations. The failure to prevent such scams and the involvement of prison officials in facilitating the fraud raise serious concerns about the integrity and effectiveness of the Chinese prison system. It is crucial that the relevant authorities take immediate action to rectify these management loopholes and ensure the enforcement of existing laws and regulations. Only through comprehensive reforms can the prison system effectively deter and prevent such crimes in the future.