Taipei police said they have nabbed three teenagers allegedly involved in a scam targeting Yiin Chii-ming (尹啟銘), the former minister for the Council for Economic Planning and Development and the Ministry of Economic Affairs, and are searching the ringleader.
Officers at the Songshan precinct said Yiin received a call on his cellphone at 10am on May 15 from someone claiming to hold his son because the son had acted as a guarantor for another person and was now millions of dollars in debt. Yiin was told that unless he paid a ransom, his son would be “dealt with,” police said. They said Yiin believed he had heard his son’s voice in the background and the caller knew his son’s name and birthday. He was also warned not to hang up on the caller.
Yiin went to a branch of Fubon Commercial Bank near his home and withdrew NT$800,000 (US$26,700). Following the instructions he was given, he went to a Wellcome supermarket near Dunhua N Road, next to the Dongshe police station in the Songshan District (松山) and left the money in a crate, police said.
The caller then told Yiin the NT$800,000 was not enough and asked for NT$400,000 more, which Yiin withdrew from a nearby post office and deposited in the same crate, police said.
According to the police, after Yiin was told to leave the area, three teenagers who were allegedly nearby and had watched the drop-offs collected the money and delivered itto a man at a McDonalds’ outlet on Gongyuan Road before taking a high-speed rail train to Taoyuan.
Since he had kept the line open to the caller, Yiin had not tried to contact his son until after he dropped off the money, police said.
When he called his son at about noon, he discovered that his son, who works for a software company, had been at work the entire time. After realizing that he had been conned, Yiin contacted the police.
Police said they were able to identify the three teens who picked up the money by reviewing films from nearby surveillance cameras and linked them to a group of con artists headed by a man surnamed Wen (溫), who is also known as “Baodi” (寶弟).
Police said they know of four other cons allegedly carried out by the group, which netted them NT$1.2 million.
They said the three teens had admitted their involvement, but said they did not know the victim was a government official. The youths will be tried in juvenile court.
Police said the scam used on Yiin was popular with con artists almost a decade ago and they had found it hard to believe that Yiin had fallen for it.
They said that in such scams, a caller says a family member of the target owes money or has become involved in a scheme and is in danger.
They say there are often sounds of someone being hit or crying in the background of the calls to make them more believable.