Big Data Put Police on Li Yifeng’s Trail

Although Chinese actor Evan Li Yifeng (李易峰) allegedly has a habit of soliciting sex services on multiple occasions, curiosity stirred over the events leading up to his arrest on September 11. Different versions of how the police was alerted of the actor’s behavior surfaced.

While prostitution is illegal in China, it is not constituted as a crime. Offenders are not charged and would normally be subjected to administrative detention for less than 15 days while paying a fine of 5000 Chinese yuan. Nevertheless, China has been strict in its cancel culture over celebrities found guilty of immoral behavior, and the 35-year-old actor’s entertainment career is certainly over.

Yifeng Was a Stingy Customer?

According to an insider, Yifeng had solicited sex services in Beijing and had cut the sex worker’s original service fee from 8000 Chinese yuan down to 6000. When they were ready to leave the hotel at 2 a.m. after their transaction, he was unwilling to pay for a taxi for the woman as he was afraid the digital payment would leave a trail tracing back to him. Instead, he forced her to ride a YouBike home.

Wearing a revealing dress while riding a public bike late at night, the woman stood out and was stopped by the police. Frightened by police’s questioning, the woman exposed her transaction with Yifeng.

When the actor was summoned for further investigation, Yifeng apparently arrived at the police station wearing a cap and sunglasses to keep his identity hidden. However, news travelled fast whenever a celebrity broke the law. Even if his scandal was not exposed to the public until half a month later, every officer at the police station apparently already knew of his promiscuous ways.

Not His First Time Being Caught

Another theory cropped up over how Yifeng was arrested. Some lawyers following the case believe that police arrested Yifeng with assistance from big data analytics. With the trend of mobile payments leading over cash transactions, police have been following a “money trail” in their investigations to crack down on the sex service industry. Once a sex worker is arrested, they can easily trace all her clients based on digital financial transactions.

Wang Haiding (王海丁), deputy head of the Cyber ​​Security Brigade of the Jiangning Branch of the Nanjing Public Security Bureau, posted an analysis on his Weibo account of Yifeng’s arrest. He believes the actor was detected by the Beijing police “in the course of investigating a criminal case.”

Chinese police are known to use big data analytics to automatically flag some users who regularly make large monetary transfers and collections after 9 p.m. Many of these users are young women who do not have formal jobs, but live in luxury apartments and often go to high-end hotels and spa centers, and are suspected to be sex workers.

According to reports released by Zhejiang police in the first half of 2022, the people arrested for soliciting sex services is nearly four times the number of arrested sex workers. Most were arrested afterward–this indicates the Chinese police’s growing reliance on using big data analytics to identify illegal activities.

Sources: Up Media, World Journal

This article is written by Minna for

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  1. Big Brother is looking at everyone’s actions. Tracking and keeping tabs on our lifestyle just by using datas… Is digital banking really good? Many dont have the choice as it is the way forward…
    But if the story of Li Yifeng really send the woman he just had s*x with home by a bike is true…I am speechless… He deserves to be caught out.
    Even if he had no cash, why did the woman not have cash to get home on a cab? This story is bizarre…

    1. well said @Hohliu this story is bizarre. I would expect if he is regular user to have his own channel of trusted source. This sounds like he picked up someone at the corner, while having in mind his connections and money he probably had regular high end escort service to his liking, as it is common in his circle. They would be paid in non-digital money, the transport is included in the price as well as role playing (dressed as street walker whatever he likes). These services are well developed in whole east Asia including China. Industry is plagued with it. This does not sound logical nor plausible, specially if it was habitual. So many comments sound like netizens are having field day and coming up with the stories within their own personal experience. I am not buying any of these stories. When I read first story I was concerned that he was intermediary btw wealthy and celebrities, and got caught, which might bw the case but with these type of nonsense stories the truth is buried. That was my personal assumption when scandal started. I guess we shall never really know the truth.

    1. Lol..then we will have lots of field day on this site…LOL…
      To be honest, I really hope these celebs clean and mange their lifestyle more honestly from now- public and private. This industry is not short of replacements…tons wants a piece of the game.
      Getting rid of one is easy for the Gov…

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