Number of Taiwanese held on telecom fraud charges in South Korea falls
Taipei, March 9 (CNA) The number of Taiwanese involved in telecom fraud in South Korea has fallen sharply after reaching a peak of more than 400 in December 2009, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.
According to the ministry's statistics, the number of Taiwanese nationals arrested and imprisoned for telecom fraud in South Korea began to spike in September 2006.
The ministry's statistics from December 2009 show that the total number of Taiwanese detained in South Korea for fraud at that time exceeded 400, most of them young people who allegedly went to South Korea for tourism or to attend short-term study programs.
The number of arrests only fell after Seoul introduced more punitive measures for fraud. Currently, the number of Taiwanese under arrest or serving time for fraud in South Korean is fewer than 10.
In a recent high-profile case, two young Taiwanese women were initially reported as missing in South Korea, only for it to be later revealed that they had been arrested for alleged involvement in telecom fraud.
The two women were arrested when they were caught withdrawing money from automatic teller machines at the behest of a fraud ring, South Korean police said.
Meanwhile, more than 200 Taiwanese nationals arrested in Spain for alleged involvement in telecom fraud face trial and Taiwan's government is making every effort to have them sent back to Taiwan, the ministry said.
Anna Kao (高安), director-general of the ministry's Department of European Affairs, said the 218 Taiwanese nationals are being held in seven detention centers and Taiwan's representative office in Spain has sent staff to visit them.
The ministry has also contacted the Spanish authorities to request that the Taiwanese nationals be deported back to Taiwan.
A total of 269 suspects were arrested in December, in a joint operation between Spain and China. Among them, 218 have been identified as Taiwanese citizens.
The fraud ring has been charged with defrauding Chinese nationals in China out of a total of 16 million euros (US$16.85 million).
The Spanish government decided on Feb. 17 to accept a request from Beijing that all 269 suspects should be extradited to China, a decision that drew a strong protest from the ministry.
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