Identity Construction of Suspects in Telecom and Internet Fraud Discourse
Authors: Ning Ye, Le Cheng & Yun Zhao
Published in Social Semiotics, March 2019.
As a new kind of contactless crime, the telecom and internet fraud has become a public hazard, with criminals targeting massive numbers of innocent victims. It is a prominent criminal problem that currently affects social stability and the sense of security of the public. Since the six Ministries and Commissions jointly cracked down the crime in 2016, the number of cases and the number of people deceived have decreased, but the occurrence and frequency has still been at a high rate, and the situation is deteriorating. Regardless of the scientific and technological means used by fraudsters, the main medium is language. From a sociosemiotic perspective, this study identifies that the criminal suspects use the discourse resources to fabricate false information and construct false identities through discursive practice, with the aim of achieving the communicative purpose of obtaining victims’ trust, tricking, deceiving and manipulating their victims into giving out confidential information and funds. This study, taking telecom fraud discourse as one type of genre, examines the dynamic process of selecting and constructing identities by manipulating related discourse resources and strategies in the social-cultural context. This study further provides a sociosemiotic solution to telecom fraud prevention.