Thirteen people related to a cross-border fraud ring whose operations encompass Taiwan, China and South Korea were detained in Taichung and Nantou on charges of kidnapping, fraud and extortion, police in Tainan said yesterday.
Tainan police, accompanied by several Tainan City prosecutors, traveled to central Taiwan early yesterday morning to carry out raids on several locations in Taichung and Nantou counties.
Police arresting the ringleaders -- identified as Leen Chien-teh (李建德) and Sung Ming-chung (宋明忠) -- along with 11 accomplices. Three other ring members were reportedly still at large.
The Tainan police began to investigate the crime ring last October after several schoolchildren in Tainan City were kidnapped for ransom.
The police found that the ring members had not only kidnapped schoolchildren but had also swindled over 1,000 people in Taiwan and South Korea out of over NT$100 million (US$3.05 million), based on a variety of scams.
They also found that the ring had recruited Taiwanese with no criminal record to travel to South Korea to work as "cells" in the ring.
The ring's operations also came to the attention of the South Korean law enforcement authorities.
The South Korean government announced on July 18 that it would cooperate with the governments of Taiwan and China in efforts to crack down on cross-border fraud.
South Korean Prime Minister Han Duck-soo said that because of increasingly rampant telephone fraud by rings operating in South Korea, Taiwan and China, the South Korean government had decided to assist the Taiwanese and Chinese authorities in locating and apprehending the criminals.