Tue, Mar 23, 2010 - Page 2 News List

NPA issues warning on con artists

By Jimmy Chuang and Shelley Shan  /  STAFF REPORTER

Taipei City’s Department of Health and the National Police Agency (NPA) warned the public yesterday to be on the look out for scammers posing as health workers, prosecutors or even police officers.

The latest statistics from the agency’s “165” fraud hotline show 608 cases were reported in the first seven days of this month, and the “health worker, prosecutor, police officer” scam was the third most common.

Taipei City Government Department of Health senior inspector Tu Chung-chieh (杜仲傑) said that suspects call up victims and tell them that their health insurance cards have been duplicated and misused. They then ask them to transfer money to a designated bank account for “temporary monitoring” by prosecutors or police officers.

“Once you receive such a call, hang up and call 165 for advice,” Tu said. “Do not do anything on an ATM machine.”

Tu warned people not to call the numbers the scammers give out.

“They direct you to their own people so what you hear will also be a lie,” he said.

Meanwhile, the legislature’s Transportation Committee passed a resolution yesterday, asking the National Communications Commission (NCC) to hold a public hearing within a month to discuss the possibility of establishing a telecommunication credit information center as a way to curb telephone fraud.

The bill was proposed by Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Pan Wei-kang (潘維剛) and 21 collegues, who suggested that Article 8 of the Telecommunications Act (電信法) be amended to give the NCC authority over the proposed center.

Pan said that they proposed the bill because they wanted a more effective way to reduce phone scams.

“Many crime rings buy personal information from low-income individuals or street people to apply for new mobile phones.” Pan said. “And if their applications are turned down by one telecom carrier, they can always go to another. These applications would not be accepted if there was a credit information center.”

Although the bill drew mixed reactions, KMT legislators Chu Feng-chih (朱鳳芝) and Tsai Chin-lung (蔡錦隆) endorsed its passage.

“The nation has 23 million people, and it has about 26 million mobile phones. The number of telephone scams occurring each year has made Taiwan a ‘Republic of Fraud,’” Tsai said. “Many countries have similar organization to prevent crimes. Why can’t we?”

The NCC has objected to the bill and said that the center should not fall under its jurisdiction.

“It is inappropriate for the government to set up an agency to help private businesses solve phone bill disputes,” NCC law division director Kuo Fu-yao (高福堯) said. “If the aim is to prevent crime, then a credit center should fall under the auspices of a crime-prevention agency.”

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