Police arrest 99 from Taiwan, China for fraud

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Ministry of Security police have arrested and charged 99 people from China and Taiwan in an international phone and Internet fraud scam that has fleeced Chinese nationals for millions of dollars apiece.

The arrestees, 76 from Taiwan and 23 from China, were placed in custody between June 29 and July 6, police said.

On July 7, Major General Nguyen Duc Minh said Vietnam would extradite the arrestees because they have not turned up any Vietnamese victims. The international crew targeted Chinese banks and citizens, mostly in Jiangsu, Anhui and Shanghai, he said.

Police seized telecommunications equipment, computers and telephones. Major

General To Lam told VOV News that the criminals often took over entire hotels of up to 30 to 40 rooms for their operations.

The suspects allegedly made random phone calls posing as telecom officials urging people to wire money to specified accounts. They rented locations in District 2, District 7 and District 8 and used Vietnamese high-speed Internet providers like FPT, Viettel and SPT. Each group used hundreds of mobile and home phone numbers to communicate, police said.

Some of the foreign victims reported they had lost up to US$1 million.

Investigators said the arrestees used a variety of tactics to dupe their victims. In one case, they posed as telephone suppliers and informed their victim that he was in danger of being defrauded. After that, they called posing as police officials and the victim to transfer money to their accounts.

The case was first detected in March when police noticed that several criminal gangs had migrated to Vietnam. Subsequent investigations turned up the fraud.

Interpol said the arrestees belonged to emerging Taiwanese criminal organizations. They started by targeting retired credit-card holders and then shifted to businessmen and rich people.

Vietnamese police said many of the accused scam artists have warrants out against them in their own homeland. Some came to Vietnam after dodging police raids in Thailand and China.

On July 1, police in Taiwan announced the arrest in Vietnam of 32 people from the island and 14 mainland Chinese for suspected involvement in telephone scams, AFP reported on July 7.

Taiwanese fraud rings have flooded into Vietnam since the island's police began cooperating with Chinese and Thai authorities, the newswire cited Taiwan's Criminal Investigation Bureau as saying.

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