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Police cuff hundreds in £7.3 MILLION phone scam

Two plane-loads of crooks flown to China, amid suspicions of high-level Police corruption

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Police across South East Asia have swooped on an international telephone fraud gang, arresting over 480 people in eight countries after an investigation lasting six months.

The alleged gang members, most of whom are Chinese and Taiwanese, are suspected of conning their victims out of 73 million yuan (£7.3m), according to a Xinhua report.

Although all 510 suspected cases of fraud took place on the Chinese mainland, the suspects were rounded up nations around the region - Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Fiji, China and Taiwan – and are said to have established money-laundering operations in Taiwan and Thailand.

Given the size of the group, two chartered planes were needed to fly the Chinese suspects back from Thailand and Malaysia to Beijing on Thursday, while separate planes were needed to transport the Taiwanese members back to their home country to be prosecuted.

China’s Ministry of Public Security led the investigation, which saw six groups of officers sent around the region earlier this month.

Liu Ancheng, Deputy Director of the ministry's Criminal Investigation Bureau, is quoted as saying that the case was unusual for mainland crime because of the large numbers of Taiwanese involved.

"The group mainly squeezed money from individuals or companies by calling them in the name of police or procuratorate staff and threatening to accuse them of money-laundering crimes," he reportedly added.

“Ringleaders from Taiwan were deterred by mainland police's stern crackdown on telecom scams, so they recruited locals in Taiwan to commit this crime.”

Cynical observers may suggest that the criminals’ modus operandi worked so well because of the high level of police corruption in China, which made their phone calls appear credible.

Phone fraud is on the rise in Asia, particularly in Japan where the elderly are often targeted. In fact, the problem is so bad there that Fujitsu recently unveiled technology designed to alert users when they are being scammed. ®

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