A multi-national phone fraud ring targeting victims in mainland China and Taiwan has been busted resulting in the arrest of 600 suspects in different countries, according to news reports.
Chinese news agency Xinhua on Monday reported that the Chinese and Taiwanese police, with the help of law enforcement agencies from four Southeast Asian countries, cracked down on a cross-nation phone fraud ring with the arrest of 598 suspects.
The mastermind behind the syndicate was believed to be based in Taiwan, according to investigations by the Chinese police, while the fraud agents were located in Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, as well as Guangdong, Chongqing and other cities in mainland China.
According to Xinhua, authorities began their operations on Jun. 9 and by the end of the bust, the Chinese police had arrested 26 suspects and the Taiwanese police 162 suspects in their respective jurisdictions. Their counterparts in Cambodia caught 188 suspects, while the Indonesians made 177 arrests and the Malaysian and Thai police apprehended 37 and 8 suspects, respectively.
News wire AFP also reported that Indonesia on Monday deported 76 Chinese nationals and 101 Taiwanese nationals at the request of the Chinese and Taiwanese police. The Jakarta Post reported that following the local bust, the police had confiscated 121 telephones, dozens of laptops, walkie-talkies and passports, 24 identification cards, 28 credit cards and cash in the form of US dollars and Indonesian rupiah, five cameras and phone records belonging to the suspects.
According to Xinhua, investigations of the phone fraud ring were initiated after Chinese citizens filed police reports since last December, stating they had received phonecalls from people claiming to be from financial institutions or government agencies. The article added that Taiwan police also received similar reports.
A law enforcement officer told Xinhua that the suspects used caller ID spoofing to pose as officials and request victims to transfer funds or provide their banking passwords.
The total amount lost from the phone scams was estimated to be in the tens of millions Chinese renminbi (RMB), or about US$1.5 million, with the largest transaction at more than 400,000 RMB (US$61,680), said Xinhua.
In May, the Chinese and Taiwanese police sent a joint team to the Southeast Asian countries to provide assistance in the investigations which eventually led to the busts.