Wed, Jul 16, 2003 - Page 2 News List

Couple arrested for buying homeless people's ID cards

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Police in Changhua County yesterday arrested a couple who allegedly bought photo identification cards from homeless people and then used the cards for other crimes.

Officers from the county's Yuanlin Precinct said they became suspicious of the couple, Hsiao Hua-hung (蕭樺鴻) and his wife, Hsu Shu-mian (許淑棉), while investigating the death of a homeless man that they said they were treating as a murder.

"We actually started from the murder," said Huang Sheng-lu (黃盛祿), section chief of the precinct's Criminal Investigation Section. "Our investigation showed that the victim had sold his photo identification card to the couple before he died so we listed the couple as suspects. Then we discovered more crimes that the couple allegedly committed."

Yang Jui-hsin (楊瑞鑫) was found dead on an isolated road in Yuanlin on June 29.

Police said the 42-year-old Hsiao and 39-year-old Hsu bought photo identification cards from homeless people for NT$10,000 each. They used the cards to apply for debit cards or mobile-phone services. The couple made money by withdrawing cash using the debit cards or selling them and the mobile phones.

Hsiao and Hsu had bought more than 40 photo identification cards from homeless people before they were arrested, police said. When arrested at their Yuanlin home yesterday morning, police officers also discovered more than 20 homeless people at the scene.

"Hsiao and Hsu insisted that these homeless people were trying to borrow from them so they had to temporarily confiscate their photo identification cards until they paid off their debts," Huang said.

"As for the murder case which they might be involved in, we are still investigating their relationship with Yang," he added.

Buying photo identification cards from homeless people and then using them for criminal purposes has become increasingly common because it is difficult to trace suspects, police said.

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