Police arrested 12 people on Wednesday and Thursday in Taoyuan, Taichung, Tainan and Chiayi on suspicion of being involved in a telecom fraud ring that targeted migrant workers, the Central Investigation Bureau said on Friday.
Eight Vietnamese and their spouses are suspected of using the personal information of migrant workers to register phone numbers that were then sold to other telecom fraud operations, the bureau told a news conference.
Bureau Deputy Commander Lin Ming-chun (林明俊) said that the suspects sent Vietnamese sales agents to locations frequented by migrant workers, where they obtained their personal information by offering to help them register for a mobile phone number free of charge.
Many migrant workers are unfamiliar with the application process and do not speak Chinese, so they often rely on someone else to help them apply for telephone and Internet services, Lin said.
Police said that members of the ring would help the migrant workers obtain a legitimate phone number, but they would then use that information to apply for additional numbers that would be sold to other fraud organizations.
These organizations rely on numbers that are difficult to trace when they are attempting to trick people into transferring money to them, Lin said.
By analyzing a database of phone numbers reported to the 165 Anti-Fraud and Internet Scam Hotline, police discovered that a large proportion of recent telecom fraud activity came from numbers registered to migrant workers, Lin said.
Following an investigation, police launched a series of raids earlier this week, Lin said, adding that the suspects are expected to face charges of forgery and fraud, and would be turned over to district prosecutors after they are interrogated.
Police said that they are not yet certain how many people were scammed using the phone numbers, but they are investigating the matter.
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