Taipei, Oct. 9 (CNA) Twenty-four Taiwanese were arrested last month in Vietnam on suspicion of telecom fraud, the Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) said at a press conference Wednesday.
The suspects allegedly were targeting Chinese-Americans in the United States and had defrauded them of approximately NT$30 million (US$ 974,460) over a 10-week period, the CIB said.
Posing as officers from the American Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Chinese Ministry of Public Security, the suspects allegedly were telling their targets that their bank accounts had showed up in a child trafficking investigation, said Su Li-tsung (蘇立琮) of the CIB's International Criminal Affairs Division.
The victims were then threatened with revocation of their permanent resident status in the U.S. if they did not transfer money into bank accounts specified by the suspects, Su said.
He said that because many of the targets were not familiar with telecom fraud tactics and felt scared or unable to seek assistance, they complied with the suspects' demands.
According to the CIB, at least 15 people were defrauded of around US$1 million, including one whose losses totaled US$70,000.
On Sept. 16, a joint investigation team comprising Taiwanese and Vietnamese police carried out a sting operation in Ho Chi Minh City, arresting 24 suspects, the CIB said.
The suspects ranged in age from 20 to 30, and many of them had previous convictions for telecom fraud, the CIB said.
The Hsinchu District Prosecutors Office, which is leading the investigation, has been holding the suspects incommunicado since they were brought back to Taiwan in two groups, on October 2 and 3, respectively, the CIB said.
Taiwan investigators are in contact with the FBI to determine exactly how many people in the U.S. were defrauded in the scam, the CIB said. (Huang Li-yun and Matthew Mazzetta)