Tue, Apr 22, 2014 - Page 5 News List

Fraud ring hit teachers, others

BORN EVERY MINUTE:Police said the Kaohsiung syndicate was part of a larger Chinese fraud network and tricked people into handing over about NT$25 million

By Rich Chang  /  Staff reporter

The Greater Kaohsiung police on Saturday cracked a fraud ring case and found that of the 34 reported victims, half were public servants.

“Some public servants are too simple-minded, which means they can be easily hooked by fraud rings,” a Kaohsiung police officer who declined to be named was quoted by the Chinese-language Apple Daily as saying.

According to Lu Hsueh-chung (呂學忠), a chief of the Kaohsiung Police Department’s Criminal Investigation branch, the main suspect, Lo Mei-chien (羅美健), 41, joined a Chinese fraud ring last year and became the main contact in Taiwan for the ring.

Lo allegedly enticed teenagers who had credit card debt or who were addicted to drugs to join the criminal group and directed them to commit fraud, Lu said.

The police on Saturday arrested 27 suspects, including Lo.

The alleged ringleader was arrested as he was trying to leave the country from Taichung International Airport, and was detained by judges, along with five suspected accomplices.

Police official Chu Shou-hua (朱壽華) said that 17 of the 34 identified potential victims were public servants, and seven are retired.

Half of the victims possessed college degree and two had master’s degrees, Chu added.

According to the police, beginning in December last year, the ring members made untargeted telephone calls, pretending to be clerks from the nation’s main hospitals and telling the marks that someone using a fake ID card made claims from the victim’s health insurance.

Some members reportedly pretended to be prosecutors and told potential victims that ransoms in kidnapping cases had been transferred to their bank accounts, for which they could be arrested if they did not respond to prosecutors for questioning.

In that alleged scam, victims were told they could avoid being detained by paying a “guarantee fee.”

Police said that the ring members would then disguise themselves as officials from the Ministry of Justice, meet with the victims and take their money in cash.

Within the past four months, 34 people were reportedly cheated out of NT$25 million (US$830,000), police said.

The Apple Daily report quoted Chu as saying that a junior-high school director and a doctor were among the victims.

“A retired female public servant in New Taipei City, who was cheated three times and handed over NT4.5 million to the ring, broke down in a Kaohsiung police station,” the newspaper quoted Chu as saying.

The physician, surnamed Huang (黃), 33, was quoted as telling the police that the ring was so good at creating a background for their swindles that he believed the calls came from hospitals.

According to Kaohsiung police officer Hsu Tung-le (許董利), the police received reports of 2,017 cases of fraud nationwide last year, and added that 1,502 have been solved.

Most reported victims were retired public servants, teachers, military personnel and housewives, Hsu said, attributing their victimization to their work in closed environments.

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