Thu, Feb 14, 2019 - Page 4 News List

Authorities indict alleged telecom fraud ring heads

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

Taichung prosecutors on Tuesday indicted four Taiwanese on charges of fraud and involvement in organized crime for their alleged roles in a telecom fraud ring that defrauded Thai nationals of about NT$2.55 million (US$82,709).

The indictment listed Wu Yuan-chung (武元鐘) and Lin Kuo-ching (林國豪) as the masterminds behind the fraud ring, as they reportedly have prior experience establishing operations in Vietnam and allegedly recruited Thais for the operation.

After Lin was arrested in Vietnam, his younger brother told other members of the operation that “it would be better for him [Lin] and [Wu] to be returned to Taiwan, as they can receive more lenient sentences here,” according to intercepted telephone conversations and messages quoted by Taiwanese authorities.

Lin, Wu, Chen Chih-peng (陳志鵬) and a man surnamed Hung (洪) were charged with fraud and contraventions of the Organized Crime Prevention Act (組織犯罪防制條例), while 19 Thai suspects were taken into custody pending criminal prosecution by Thai authorities for their alleged involvement in the scheme.

Court records showed that Wu was convicted for his involvement in telecom scams in 2013 and was released on early parole in 2016.

He and Lin later reportedly traveled to the Philippines to start a business.

Last year, they returned to Taiwan to meet with Chen and other individuals, pooling about NT$1 million as “investment funds” for computers, telecommunication lines and other equipment at an office in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, for a new telecom fraud operation, prosecutors said.

An investigation found that Wu and Lin had a Thai translator recruit Thais, who were transported to live and work at the Ho Chi Minh City office, with the promise of monthly wages of 15,000 baht (US$479), a 2 to 4 percent share of successful fraud cases and an Apple iPhone.

The group allegedly sent text messages to a list of Thai telephone numbers claiming that the number would be shut down.

If the number’s owner replied, their call was transferred to the Thai operatives, who were tasked with convincing victims to wire funds by pretending to be government officials investigating money laundering and drug trafficking cases, prosecutors said.

Ho Chi Minh City police raided the office on Aug. 24 last year.

The Criminal Investigation Bureau was notified about the case and arrested Wu and Chen in October last year.

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