Cross-border busting of phone fraud ring triggered row with Manila

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 09 February, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 09 February, 2011, 12:00am

Mainland, Taiwanese and Philippine authorities cracked an international phone fraud ring in late December allegedly masterminded by Taiwanese suspects.

A total of 178 people were arrested on the mainland, in Taiwan and the Philippines for allegedly swindling 140 million yuan (HK$165.8 million) from 450 mainlanders in 21 mainland provinces.

According to mainland police, the victims received phone calls from swindlers posing as prosecutors or security investigators who said they were suspected of laundering money abroad.

To prove they were innocent or help nab the real suspects, the victims were asked to apply for a mainland bank account and deposit all their savings in that account.

After the victims did so, they were told to hand over their bank ATM card numbers and passwords, which the suspects said would be placed at the 'court' for evidence and protection.

Using the ATM card numbers and passwords, the swindlers then transferred money from those accounts to banks in Taiwan, the mainland, the Philippines and Thailand.

Mainland police later froze more than 11 million yuan not yet wired out by the fraudsters, and confiscated 8,000 bank cards, four guns, 43 computers, 11 cars and 200 cell phones. The massive phone scam rocked mainland authorities, especially as some of the victims were reportedly senior mainland officials who demanded that the case be cracked. Mainland police set up a task force to deal with the case and sought help from Taiwan and the Philippines.

On December 27, mainland police officers went to Manila after Philippines authorities arrested 24 suspects - 14 from Taiwan and 10 from the mainland.

At Beijing's request, the Philippine government decided to deport all the suspects to the mainland, despite protests from Taiwanese authorities.