Sat, Sep 11, 2004 - Page 3 News List

Four men arrested for extortion after telephone threats

By Jimmy Chuang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Four men were arrested in Taichung yesterday for reportedly demanding money from people by claiming to be wanted fugitives and demanding financial assistance.

The four people were identified as 37-year old Peng Wen-sheng (彭文生), Chou Cheng-chang (周正昌), 27, Huang Wen-chun (黃文春), 29, and 30-year old Liu Meng-hsiuan (劉孟璇). All four were arrested at Peng's home in Taichung, where police said a small amount of heroin was also discovered.

According to the police, the four were based in Ilan and began making random phone calls to extort money in February.

Police believe Peng was the mastermind of the group. They said that his older brother Peng Sung-sheng (彭松生), 41, was also involved but he has left the country and they are trying to locate him.

"These gang members' actions were outrageous -- they even threatened police officers," said a senior officer of the National Police Agency's Criminal Investigation Bureau, who wished to remain anonymous.

"According to our investigation, they accidentally called police officers. Although officers immediately identified themselves, these guys still dared to say, `I am the outlaw and even the police should be scared of me.'"

Officials said the investigation found the group would tell their victims that they were on the run and needed large sums of money. If the victims wanted to remain safe and sound, they would have to wire to certain bank accounts.

Among the group's reported victims were gangsters, police officers, prosecutors and judges. The police said some real gangsters paid up because "the callers sounded mad during the phone conversations."

Police discovered a list of more than 30,000 people that included contact information, birth dates and home addresses.

The police said the group made more than NT$20 million through their threatening phone calls.

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