Angeles City, the Philippines, July 21 (CNA) Taiwan and Philippine authorities have arrested members of a phone and Internet fraud ring led by a Taiwanese man in the Philippines, said a Philippine investigator who declined to be named.
Taiwan's Investigation Bureau provided the Philippines National Bureau of Investigation with information on the fraud ring, the investigator said.
After one month of surveillance, the Philippines investigators on Friday busted 21 members of the fraud ring in Angeles City, 90 kilometersnorth of Manila, the investigator added.
When police raided the fraud ring's bases, the members were caught attempting to burn and destroy evidence, the investigator said.
During initial questioning, 13 members of the fraud ring said they were from Taiwan, while eight said they were from China but investigations are underway to confirm that information since no passports or other documents were presented or found, the investigator familiar with the case pointed out.
The name of the Taiwanese ring leader has not been released by Philippine authorities as the case is still under investigation, the investigator said.
During the raid, police found telecommunication equipment, lists of fraud victims, and scam guide books, the investigator added.
The fraud ring rented two luxurious mansions in the city at a monthly rate of 65,000 Philippine pesos (US$1,549.33) and sealed cracks and openings in the buildings’fences and main entrance so that no one could see what was going inside, the investigator said.
A neighbor told CNA that the fraud ring had moved into the mansions approximately two months ago and kept a low profile. Only one member was seen leaving the mansions to purchase daily necessities, the neighbor said.
The suspects worked by impersonating law enforcement officers, local officials or customer service personnel to trick or threaten victims into transferring money to the ring. Most of the victims were from China, the investigator said.
It is not clear how much money the suspects obtained but Philippine authorities are carrying out further investigations into the case.
Many of the suspects said they had been tricked into such activities by advertisements in newspapers and had no idea what the job entailed until they arrived in the Philippines, the investigator said.
The Taiwanese members were paid between NT$30,000 (US$999.56) and NT$40,000 per month, while the Chinese members received 2,000 yuan (US$312.73) monthly, according to investigators.
Investigators also found during initial questioning that the suspects impersonated Taiwan diplomats at the Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in the Philippines by using fake business cards.
(By Emerson Lin and C.J. Lin)