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May 29, 2017

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Local, mainland authorities bust cross-strait telefraud operation

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Criminal Investigation Bureau's (CIB) 7th Brigade on Monday, under the direction of the Shihlin District Prosecutors Office, arrested 16 suspects from Taipei, New Taipei, Taichung and other areas involved in an elaborate cross-strait fraud scheme.

Police say that the suspected mastermind of the operation, surnamed Sung, opened up a trade company in the mainland as a front. He then recruited mainland Chinese women to work as telephone operators who would call potential victims in Taiwan. The callers worked to ensnare their victims by establishing "romantic relationships" through false pretenses.

After successfully fooling the victims, the callers would choose from a number of pre-fabricated stories, such as "having a terminally ill grandmother," "owing loan sharks a large amount of money," or "trying to get out of the prostitution business," to trick the victims into either wiring the company money or handing over cash in person out of sympathy.

When the victims agreed to meet up, the mainland Chinese callers would contact their Taiwanese counterparts, notifying them of the rendezvous, the victim's attire, and the specified roles to be played.

According to preliminary investigations, over 100 victims have been cheated out of between NT$100,000 and NT$5 million each.

Police say that the fraud ring made at least NT$100 million in illicit gains.

Investigators also said that the fraudsters had assaulted at least two victims for either going to the police or for refusing to hand over further payments. They allegedly used baseball bats to force victims submission.

One member of the fraud ring allegedly recorded one such beating and sent it off to Sung, asking for a reward.

Sung was listed as a fugitive by prosecutors after fleeing to mainland China from charges related to firearms, narcotics and fraud.

He was later apprehended by authorities in Xiamen.

The CIB urges those with related questions to call the National Police Agency's 165 hotline for further information on fraud schemes.

Police also urge those who have been subject to assault and fraud to come forward and identify the suspects.

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