482 suspects across Asia arrested for China telecom scam

Suspects from China, Taiwan and six other Asian countries arrested for orchestrating transnational telecom scam that targeted victims in China, cheating victims of some US$11.5 million.

Police forces across Asia have arrested a total of 482 people suspected of involvement in a major transnational telecom scam that targeted victims in China.

Citing the Ministry of Public Security, Chinese state media Xinhua reported Thursday that among those arrested, 177 were from the Chinese mainland, 286 from Taiwan, and 19 from Thailand and Myanmar. Police from six other countries helped law enforcement officials from China and Taiwan with the arrests that occurred the day before, the report added.

According to the ministry, the people were suspected of stealing over 73 million yuan (US$11.5 million) in 510 cases of telecom fraud, all of which took place in China. The suspects were located across the Chinese mainland, Taiwan and six other countries--Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia, Sri Lanka and Fiji--and also established money-laundering dens in Taiwan and Thailand.

"The group mainly squeezed money from individuals or companies by calling them in the name of police or [procurator office] staff, threatening to accuse them of money-laundering crimes," said Liu Ancheng, deputy director of the ministry's Criminal Investigation Bureau. The victims were asked to transfer money to the gang's accounts, and the accomplices in Taiwan and Thailand then withdrew the money from local ATMs.

The Xinhua report said 126 suspects from the Chinese mainland were escorted from Thailand and Malaysia back to Beijing on Thursday to be further interrogated by the ministry, while 262 Taiwanese suspects had been brought back to Taiwan.

A simiilar incident occured almost a year ago in June when some 600 suspects in China, Taiwan and four Southeast Asian countries, were arrested after an Asian-wide phone scam was busted.