TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Prosecutors in Kaohsiung City have indicted 42 suspects accused of defrauding 124 victims in China of a total of NT$57.03 million (US$2.04 million) as part of a scam based in North Macedonia, reports said Wednesday (Aug. 18).
A man surnamed Chen (陳), 31, began recruiting members for a fraud ring in 2019, CNA reported. He set up operations in Japan, the Netherlands, Montenegro, and Turkey but only stayed three to four months in each country to evade the local authorities.
In Dec. 2020, he arrived in North Macedonia, with one group of team members following him there in Feb. 2021 to rent a luxury villa as their headquarters, prosecutors said. In the meantime, another part of the team remained in Taiwan to buy airplane tickets for more new recruits.
Once in North Macedonia, team members pretended to be Chinese public security agents or prosecutors and threatened Chinese citizens with allegations of money laundering. When the victims did not have enough money in their account, the fraud ring forced them to take out online loans. They even had members tapping the phones of real Public Security Bureau agents to make sure they had not uncovered the scam, the report said.
In May, with assistance from Taiwan, North Macedonian police detained 30 suspects and found a large number of computers and other electronic equipment used in the scheme. Chen was identified as the mastermind of the ring and charged with fraud and organized crime.