TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Taiwan, the U.S., Japan, and Australia came together on Wednesday (Oct. 28) to co-host a virtual workshop about combating COVID-19-related crimes, such as fraud schemes and spreading false information.
The forum, which was part of the Global Cooperation and Training Framework (GCTF), was participated in by more than 300 law enforcement officials and experts from 31 countries, according to Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA). The GCTF is a program that was initiated by Taiwan and the U.S. but has since grown to include more countries.
“From financial fraud schemes targeting vulnerable populations to the importation of counterfeit medical supplies to websites defrauding customers and email scams trying to steal money, these illicit activities reveal the darker side of the human response to the pandemic,” remarked Raymond Greene, deputy director of the American Institute in Taiwan (AIT).
The deputy director continued:
“These crimes know no borders, so I hope that we all will benefit from our collective effort today to share best practices on developing investigative leads, disrupting and dismantling fraud schemes, and increasing our communities’ awareness of and resistance to these illicit activities.”
Officials from the U.S.’ Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and their counterparts from Taiwan, Japan, and Australia shared their knowledge and experience tackling pandemic-related schemes at a time when many parts of the world are still struggling to contain outbreaks. Taiwanese Justice Minister Tsai Ching-hsiang (蔡清祥) observed that the workshop provides an excellent opportunity for participating nations to exchange information and expertise on combating crime.
According to Investigation Bureau Director-General Leu Weng-jong (呂文忠), common illicit activities related to the pandemic include hoarding and counterfeiting surgical masks as well as disseminating disinformation. He said the authorities had seized approximately 260 million counterfeit masks so far and logged around 1,400 cases of disinformation in the country.