TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The trial of a fraud operation and human trafficking ring, which held 59 known victims, mostly Taiwanese people, against their will, began in Maribor, Slovenia on Nov. 29.
According to Slovenian media, three Slovenians, and four Taiwanese citizens have been charged in the case for “unlawfully detaining at least 63 people” and forcing them to work in a fraud operation, scamming Chinese-speakers abroad into giving them money and financial information.
In January, Croatian and Slovenian police conducted a joint sting operation to break the fraud ring, and release the Taiwanese prisoners being held against their will.
The call center operation began in Slovenia in 2015, with the ringleaders originally luring the victims to the country with promises of a stable legal job to help them pay off various debts.
Upon arrival, the victims’ passports were seized, and they were forced into the shared housing, and kept under watch. After several months, the operation was transferred from Slovenia to Croatia.
Total Slovenia News reports that during the course of the fraud ring’s operation, they made approximately 370,000 Euros (US$ 418,000).
The state prosecution has offered a plea deal in exchange for three years in jail for most of the defendants and the confiscation of all funds acquired during the illegal operation.
The four Taiwanese would be banned from Slovenia for five years’ time, after finishing their sentences. The report at Total Slovenia News does not indicate if any defendants have accepted the bargain.
The hearings are set to continue for 14 days, and will likely be difficult because of language barriers. One Taiwanese defendant has demanded to have a Taiwanese translator, claiming his Mandarin Chinese ability is not strong.
The report also indicates that the Slovenian leaders were working with a ringleader in Taiwan to help traffic the victims from Taiwan to Eastern Europe. This individual is assumed to still be living freely in Taiwan.