Fri, May 10, 2019 - Page 2 News List

Police arrest couple suspected of taking more than NT$20m in fraud scheme

By Chiu Chun-fu and Sherry Hsiao  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Mobile phones, computers and advertising documents used for a fraud scheme and seized by the Criminal Investigation Bureau are displayed at the bureau’s offices in Taipei on Wednesday.

Photo: Chiu Chun-fu, Taipei Times

The Criminal Investigation Bureau’s 7th Investigation Corps on Wednesday said it had arrested a couple suspected of operating a scheme that defrauded people of more than NT$20 million (US$646,078).

Police said that they on Jan. 30 arrested the couple — a man surnamed Liu (劉) and a woman surnamed Peng (彭) — as well as 14 other people linked to the scheme.

The man had been using the nicknames “doctor” and “universe,” and the woman went by the name Anna, they said.

They claimed to be responsible for a company called Pei Tou Information Technology Group, and targeted retired people and housewives over the age of 50, police said.

Investigators found that the couple had previously worked as salespeople selling supplements, and in 2016, allegedly sold columbarium niches in Changzhou, China.

Each unit allegedly sold for 10,000 yuan (N$45,000 at the current exchange rate), police said, adding that buyers were allegedly promised profits of NT$2,500 per week.

When the suspects were unable to pay the dividends the following year, they convinced people to “invest” in Pei Tou Information Technology Group, a company that supposedly makes smart watches, smart terminals and vans in which people can take physical examinations, police said.

Each unit of investment was set at 20,000 yuan, 100,000 yuan, 200,000 yuan or 500,000 yuan, and investors were promised 1,120 yuan, 5,600 yuan, 11,200 yuan and 28,000 yuan in dividends per week respectively, they said, adding that the victims were allegedly told that they could receive dividends for 52 consecutive weeks.

Police said that people who recruited other investors were told that they could earn a commission.

For each “investment” they made, the victims allegedly received a set of passwords to an account into which the dividends would be paid in the form of points, they said, adding that the points could then be used to redeem items ranging from daily necessities to vehicles.

The victims were also allegedly told to link the accounts to bank accounts in China, and that each point could be exchanged for 1 yuan in cash, police said.

The victims began suspecting that they had been scammed after they failed to receive payments from mid-2017 to January last year, they said.

According to police reports, there are at least 30 victims who lost more than NT$20 million in total.

Police said they seized about NT$370,000 in cash, as well as cellphones, computers, documents and other evidence from the suspects’ homes.

The suspects are being investigated for fraud and contravening the Banking Act (銀行法), they added.

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