Filipinos in Taiwan advised to watch out for identity theft

MECO warned Filipinos to beware of identity theft and electronic fraud after crime syndicate busted

(Image from Flickr user Don Hankins)

(Image from Flickr user Don Hankins)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- The Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO) in Taipei on Tuesday warned Filipinos to beware of identity theft and electronic fraud after a big bust of a crime syndicate and individuals involved in fraud cases, reported ABS-CBN News. 

MECO issued the warning after the ATM bank cards and mobile SIM cards of Filipinos in Taiwan had been used without their permission. 

To date, at least four Filipinos were detained by Taiwan authorities for committing bank fraud, but "It turned out that they were victims of a syndicate who used unclaimed ATM cards from a loan shark to carry out illegal transactions," MECO said.

A Taiwanese-Filipino couple was arrested last year by Taiwan police for illegally loaning money to Filipino factory workers on the condition that they gave them their ATM cards. The repayments for the loans were then withdrawn from the ATM cards. 

However, most of the workers never saw their ATM cards again, and they were then sold to the suspects' nephew to internet fraud rings for the price of NT$5,000 (US$165) per card. 

The scam began back in 2012, therefore, more Filipinos may have been victimized by the fraud rings that they may be aware of, said MECO Chairman and Resident Representative Angelito Banayo.

Another scam offers free SIM cards in exchange for providing copies of Alien Resident Certificates or passports. The identification documents are then used by the syndicates for illegal acts such as drug trafficking or prostitution. 

Banayo advised Filipinos in Taiwan to be highly cautious with whom they share their identification documents, and to immediately contact local police or the MECO offices in Taipei, Taichung, and Kaohsiung if they suspect they have suffered identity theft or fraud.