The Philippines said yesterday that it is to deport nearly 400 illegal immigrants from Taiwan and China accused of running a multimillion dollar online and telephone scam.
Members of the criminal gang allegedly made calls or sent e-mails posing as police officers or state prosecutors to dupe victims back home into believing their bank accounts were being used by terrorists.
The scam targeted elderly citizens and involved persuading victims to transfer their savings into bank accounts controlled by the gang.
Philippine investigators were tipped off about the scam by Taiwanese and Chinese authorities in July. Twenty homes across Manila were subsequently raided by police last month to arrest those involved.
Of the Taiwanese, 288 were to be deported yesterday, while two are to remain in detention for separate charges of assault.
The 86 Chinese, along with a New Zealander also caught in last month’s raids, are to be sent home at a later date.
Immigration bureau spokeswoman Antonette Mangrobang said the suspects would face criminal prosecution in their home countries.
The Taiwanese representative office in Manila on Monday called on the Philippines to send home its citizens due to their poor detention conditions.
At least one Taiwanese detainee has died and dozens have fallen ill due to the poor conditions at the gymnasium where they have been held since their arrest.
In February last year the Philippines mistakenly deported 14 Taiwanese suspects to China whom they believed had swindled US$20 million from Chinese victims.
A furious Taiwan denounced the mistake as a blow to economic and cultural ties. China returned the 14 suspects to Taiwan nearly four months later.