Thu, Mar 07, 2019 - Page 2 News List

Taiwanese sentenced for organized crime, fraud

EUROPEAN BASE:The group made telephone calls in which they impersonated Chinese officials and police to deceive Chinese residents, the ruling statement said

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

Miaoli District Court judges yesterday convicted Tsai Chia-wei (蔡嘉偉) and three other suspects of running a telecom scam that defrauded Chinese residents out of millions of yuan from their base in Europe.

Investigators found Tsai, 39, to be the main financial backer and organizer of the ring.

He set up operations in Croatia and Slovenia, where he procured telecommunications and computer gear, and hired young professionals from Taiwan with the promise of “overseas jobs with good pay,” investigators said.

The court found the four guilty of engaging in organized crime and fraud. Tsai was handed a prison sentence of nine years and four months, as well as three years of mandatory labor. His main accomplices, surnamed Huang (黃), Meng (孟) and Su (蘇), were handed sentences of five years and six months, five years, and four years and two months respectively.

After receiving tips, Criminal Investigation Bureau officials said that in July 2017, they began cooperating with Croatian and Slovenian authorities to investigate the group.

After conducting surveillance, bureau agents, along with judiciary and police officials, in January last year launched Operation Hammer in the two former Yugoslavian republics, the officials said, adding that more than 100 people were arrested, including 97 Taiwanese, some Chinese, and a few Slovenians and Croatians.

Officials shut down two of Tsai’s offices in Croatia and one in Slovenia, seizing telecommunications and networking equipment, computers and mobile devices, as well as account records and other documents.

“Tsai led the telecom scam, which he operated like a business with separate subdivisions. They made telephone calls in which they impersonated Chinese government officials and police to deceive Chinese residents,” the court’s ruling said.

“By pretending to investigate criminal cases in which they needed to monitor assets and financial transfers, they persuaded people to wire money to their accounts,” it said.

“The scam has badly tarnished Taiwan’s international image and damaged cross-strait relations,” the ruling added.

In tracing the money, investigators found that at least 25 Chinese were scammed out of 11.74 million yuan (US$1.75 million at the current exchange rate), officials said.

Bureau agents and prosecutors worked to confiscate Tsai’s assets, including NT$5.52 million (US$178,919) in cash, 21 Taiwanese bank accounts, two foreign bank accounts, four real-estate properties and 24 luxury cars, including ones made by Maserati, Audi, Bentley, Porsche, Mercedes-Benz and BMW, they said.

Tsai has a finance background and owned four businesses in Taichung, including car rental, brokerage and online gaming companies, prosecutors said.

Meng, 40, was an IT engineer with experience in industry and good English, while Huang, 38, served as an administrator, supervising the Taiwanese workers in the European offices, the prosecutors added.

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