TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Cooperation between Taiwan and Portugal resulted in the arrest of 19 fraud suspects in the Portuguese holiday resort of Cascais and their two suspected backers in Hsinchu, officials said Friday (August 23).
The Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB) said the mastermind, a man surnamed Hsi (習), set up a telecom fraud center in Portugal, a European Union member country which allows Taiwanese citizens to enter without visa.
He recruited 19 people, mostly youths in financial trouble, with the purpose of defrauding residents of China in a scheme which came to the attention of the CIB last May, the Central News Agency reported.
Taiwan coordinated with police in Portugal and broke up the ring that very month, with 18 of the 19 suspects extradited to the island, the CIB said.
Hsi stayed in Taiwan with an accomplice, but they were finally arrested on August 19 and handed over to the New Taipei District Prosecutors Office for an investigation into fraud.
Impersonating Chinese security authorities has become a widespread activity for fraud rings trying to extort money out of Chinese citizens. Many of the groups, sometimes comprising both Chinese and Taiwanese members, have been apprehended overseas, but sometimes pressure from Beijing has resulted in the deportation of all suspects to China. Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs has protested against the practice, demanding the extradition of Taiwanese suspects to the island instead of to China.