The government’s move to open up Taiwan to free independent travelers (FIT) from China has also made the nation vulnerable to Chinese fraud organizations, as police on Monday arrested 12 alleged con artists from Guangdong Province.
The 12 had traveled to Taiwan under the pretext of a business visit, but allegedly spent their time swindling superstitious elderly women out of more than NT$1.4 million (US$46,800) in cash and 38 pieces of gold jewelry.
Police say the fraud syndicate consisted of five men and seven women, who had visited Taiwan multiple times by pretending to be management-level employees of a China-based electronic appliance company and a construction engineering corporation.
Instead of touring the country or conducting any business-related activities, the group reportedly led by Chen Muwang (陳木旺) and Chen Wenquan (陳文泉) spent most of their time in hospitals and traditional markets, looking for easy targets, police said.
Police said the gang would first split into three or four groups, with at least one woman in each group. The woman would pose as a superstitious woman who was looking for an old man who performed “magic rituals.”
The women would approach a target, usually an elderly woman, and ask for her help in finding the “magical” man, police said.
Then a second gang member, pretending to be the granddaughter of the “magic man,” would appear in front of the victim as if by complete coincidence and offer to take them to meet her “grandfather,” the man the first gang member was looking for, police said.
The fake granddaughter would then urge potential victims to join in, saying that in order to participate in the rituals to eliminate bad luck, they had to bring jewelry, and that the more valuable it was, the more powerful the ceremony would be, police said.
Police said the gang entered the country again on Aug. 16 and carried out more cons, but were arrested when they attempted to pull the trick again at the Huguang market in Taipei’s Neihu District (內湖) on Monday, two days before they were scheduled to leave Taiwan.