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May 29, 2017

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MOFA warns travelers of police impersonation scams in United Kingdom

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) yesterday warned of police impersonation scams in the United Kingdom, urging Taiwanese travelers not to fall victim to such schemes.

The ministry has recently received reports of Taiwanese travelers to the UK being scammed by suspects pretending to be local police officers and plainclothes police, said Louis Huang (黃敏境), deputy director-general of MOFA's Department of European Affairs during a regular briefing yesterday.

"These so-called police would pretend to conduct random spot checks on travelers and stole their money when asking them to take out their wallets to prove their identities," Huang said.

Similar incidents have been reported by Taiwanese nationals to Taipei's office in London recently. Most of the cases happened at major tourism attractions in the UK, he noted.

It is not very often that British police stop foreign tourists or ask people on the street to present their identity papers, Huang said.

However, if asked to do so, Taiwanese nationals are urged to remain calm and request proof of their police status first, he added.

If Taiwanese travelers have difficulty communicating with police officers, they can call Taiwan's representative office in the UK to ask for assistance, he added.

In case of emergency, Taiwanese nationals can call a 24/7 hotline 0800-085-095 during their overseas trips, the MOFA official said.

Email Scams

Meanwhile, Huang yesterday also warned of rampant email scams recently targeting Taiwanese businesspeople.

Taiwan's office in the UK has received phone calls asking for assistance after several Taiwanese businesspeople fell victim to email scams.

Such scams usually involves fraudsters sending email messages from fake accounts that appear to be from companies that the potential victims do business with, asking them to wire money to a new account for a business transaction, Huang said.

So far the office has received reports of at least five similar cases in London alone, when Taiwanese businesspeople were asked to wire money to UK banks before finding out that they had been scammed, he said.

The MOFA official calls on local businesspeople to be on high alert for such fraud schemes and double check email addresses he or she receives contact from before acting, the official said.

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