According to the South China Morning Post, a man named Wang in China bought 4,600 phones to increase the number of live broadcast viewers. The man, who created viewer traffic with the phones he bought, earned 3 million yuan (US$ 415,000) in less than four months.

The man was sentenced to one year and three months in prison and a fine of 50,000 yuan (US$7,000) for the "crime of illegal commercial activity".


Wang started this business in late 2022 after a friend told him about a "lucrative" app known as "scrubbing", the report said.

The term refers to mimicking real-time activity such as viewer numbers, likes, comments and shares to mimic real audience interactions on live streams and mislead consumers.

The Chinese man bought 4,600 cell phones controlled by special cloud software for the scam.

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He also bought VPN services from a tech company and network equipment such as routers. Then, with just a few clicks, he was able to simultaneously redirect 4,600 cell phones to the live streaming destination, increasing viewer numbers and interactions.

However, it is unknown where Wang got the cell phones, the prosecutor in charge of the case said there was "the possibility of illegal activities in the cell phone recycling market."

Wang and 17 other suspects are under investigation for "violating national regulations, knowingly spreading fake information online through for-profit publishing services, and disrupting market order," according to local prosecution officials.

Editor: John Wickey