Taiwan-Philippines effort cracks cross-border phone fraud ring

PHOTO: Reuters

TAIPEI - A cross-border telecommunications fraud ring that operated in Taiwan, China and Philippines was recently busted by Taiwanese police authorities, the Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB) announced.

Taichung police authorities arrested the alleged chief suspect of the ring, surnamed Lin, and 13 other suspects during separate raids on 37 locations in the central city on Sept. 8, the CIB said in a statement.

According to the CIB, the ring had been recruiting members from both sides of the Taiwan Strait to join before asking them to fly to the Philippines where they operated as the central hub for the illicit activities.

Targeting potential victims in mainland China, the suspects called or texted the victims impersonating judges, prosecutors or law enforcement officials.

The conmen told victims that their bank accounts were allegedly involved in a money-laundering scam and asked them to transfer their deposits to designated "safe accounts."

After monitoring their operations for a period of time, the CIB said police authorities led by prosecutors in Taichung launched separate raids on different locations in Taichung on Sept. 8.

Aside from arresting the suspects, police also confiscated NT$12 million (S$517, 460) in cash and three sedans used by the ring.

Meanwhile, Philippines authorities also launched simultaneous raids on Sept. 8 in Cebu, arresting 68 suspects, including 43 Taiwanese and 25 Chinese, the CIB said.

The CIB is warning Taiwanese to be aware of this kind of scam. It also urged those with questions to call the National Police Agency's 165 hotline for further information on such fraud schemes.