MOFA warns US-based Taiwanese of telephone scam

By Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporter

Wed, Sep 12, 2018 - Page 3

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) yesterday warned the public against a fraud scheme in which scammers pretending to be Chinese embassy or police officials target US-based Taiwanese.

The Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in Washington and representative offices in Boston, Chicago, San Francisco and Miami have received reports of telecom fraud, Department of North American Affairs Deputy Director-General Regine Chen (陳慧蓁) said.

“The scammers have changed their tactics. There have been several reports of telephone calls received by US-based Taiwanese and students in which alleged scammers pretended to be working for Chinese embassies or the Chinese police force,” she said.

The scammers tried to obtain personal information or money by claiming that there is an important document addressed to them or that their identity has been stolen, Chen said.

Victims have been defrauded out of sums ranging from US$15,000 to US$180,000, she added.

A Taiwanese student studying in Ohio received a telephone call from someone who claimed to be working for Deutsche Post DHL Group, she said.

The caller “claimed that a parcel that the student had sent to Shanghai had been intercepted, but the student denied having sent anything. The caller then told the student that his identify could have been stolen, before forwarding the call to a ‘Chinese police officer,’” Chen said.

The supposed police officer asked the student for his passport number “to file a report” and told him that he had engaged in transnational money laundering and was wanted by Shanghai prosecutors, she said.

After the student denied any wrongdoing, the scammer offered to help him clear his name on the condition that the student supply his personal information, including bank account number, and deposit at least US$10,000 in a bank account, Chen said.

The student did not fall for the scam and contacted a DHL office, which told him that it has received many similar inquiries, she said.

Chen urged Taiwanese expatriates to contact their local police if they receive such calls and to apply for a new passport if they fear that their passport information might have been stolen.

The ministry issued a similar warning in June, after many US-based Taiwanese reported receiving telephone calls from people with Chinese accents posing as representative office staff.