Manila nabs 170 Taiwan, China fraud suspects
CNAMANILA--Nearly 170 fraud suspects from the two sides of the Taiwan Strait were arrested in the Philippines yesterday, according to Philippine law enforcement authorities.
October 25, 2013, 12:27 am TWN
It was the largest single bust of suspects in cross-strait telecommunication fraud since Taiwan signed a judicial assistance agreement with the Philippines in April this year.
Acting on a tip-off from Taiwan's Investigation Bureau, law enforcement officers arrested the suspects after raiding a luxury hotel in the Clark Special Economic Zone located some 100 kilometers north of Manila.
Two Taiwanese officials stationed in the Philippines — one from the Investigation Bureau and the other from the National Immigration Agency — were also present during the raid.
According to an initial count, about 100 of the nabbed suspects are Taiwanese nationals, although the exact number is pending further checking and confirmation.
Agents from the Philippines' National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) said the fraud ring had leased all the rooms on the second and third floors of one of the hotel's high-rise buildings.
The ring then refurbished the space into a telecommunications control room. Hotel surveillance monitors were removed by the fraudsters, who also installed soundproofing.
NBI agents said they monitored the ring's activities for several months after being tipped off by their Taiwanese counterparts.
In the process, some of the Philippine investigators checked into the hotel disguised as couples or lovers. However, they had difficulty getting access to the floors rented by the ring because it had instructed hotel management to ban any other guests from entry, according to NBI officials.
Evidence collected at the scene shows that the ring members would impersonate bank clerks, judges or prosecutors to tempt or intimidate victims into remitting money into designated bank accounts, the officials said, adding that most of the victims were Chinese nationals.
Also seized in the raid were a large number of computers, telecommunication equipment, lists of victims and reference books on fraud tactics.
The suspects face charges of fraud, illegal use of telecommunication facilities and other related crimes.