Bangladesh authorities crack telephone fraud ring, arrest Taiwanese suspects

Staff writer, the CNA

Wed, Jan 29, 2014 - Page 5

Bangladeshi authorities last month cracked a telephone fraud ring with Taipei’s assistance and arrested 32 Taiwanese suspects, seven of whom have confessed to criminal activities, Dhaka police have confirmed.

The 32 suspects could be indicted within a week on fraud charges, which carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in jail in Bangladesh, according to an official in the country’s Rapid Action Battalion.

The battalion — an elite anti-crime force — arrested the 32 Taiwanese along with five Chinese and seven Bangladeshis at private residences in Dhaka on Dec. 22 last year.

It did not publicly release the details of the case until Monday.

Those arrested are suspected of violating the country’s Telecommunication Act by engaging in illegal acts through Internet telephone services and they could be prosecuted under the more stringent Information and Communication Technology Act, which carries heavier penalties.

Kismat Hayat, a commanding officer of the battalion, told the Central News Agency that breakthroughs in the case were made with the help of an official from Taiwan’s representative office in India.

Three Taiwanese police officers who were in Dkaha for about five days earlier this month also helped with the investigations and arrests.

Hayat said that although most of the Taiwanese suspects did not cooperate with investigators, seven admitted that they perpetrated criminal acts.

The criminal ring had been active for 18 months and had about 2,000 bank accounts with a total of NT$3.9 billion (US$128 million) in illegal gains, according to the official.

Telephone fraud was common in Taiwan five to 10 years ago, but as locals became aware of the many scams used, the conmen have migrated, first to China, then to Southeast Asia and now to other emerging economies.

Before the case in Bangladesh, police in Sri Lanka raided five or six locations and cracked a fraud ring that had gained access to Internet banks, leading to the arrest of 100 suspects, including 96 Taiwanese.