Forty-seven indicted over Latvia telecom fraud

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

Fri, Oct 26, 2018 - Page 3

The Taichung District Prosecutors’ Office yesterday indicted 47 people suspected of belonging to a criminal ring that operated a telecom scam in Latvia, defrauding mostly Chinese citizens out of NT$148.47 million (US$4.8 million), which led to an international tug-of-war with China regarding their extradition.

The 47 suspects were the second group from the ring to be charged with aggravated fraud, organized crime and related offenses.

Prosecutors earlier indicted 44 suspects after they were extradited back to Taiwan.

Investigators said that Huang Yu-chuan (黃右銓), 28, and Lin Wei-lun (林煒倫), 26, had headed up the ring, along with their deputies, surnamed Wang (王), Yen (顏) and Chen (陳).

They recruited Taiwanese, mostly people in their 20s and 30s, and trained them to deceive people into thinking they were Chinese police officers or officials , investigators said, adding that most of their victims were Chinese living in China, Hong Kong and Macau.

They flew to Latvia, where they rented houses, win which they installed telecommunications and computer network equipment.

It was reported that they rented houses from a Latvian man called Janis, with Huang mostly dealing with locals because of his fluency in foreign languages.

After victims filed complaints, Chinese police collaborated with the Latvian authorities and conducted three raids, arresting 110 people in August last year.

The case led to an international tug-of-war, as the Chinese government requested that all 110 suspects be sent to China for prosecution and told Latvian officials that all of those arrested were Chinese nationals.

Not all of those arrested have been indicted.

One of the suspects managed to contact the Taipei Mission in the Republic of Latvia, which found that, except for one Chinese citizen, all of those arrested were Taiwanese.

After a month-long negotiation with the Latvian government, the Taiwanese suspects were in October last year extradited back to Taiwan on eight separate flights. A security escort of police officers was provided by Taiwan.

Relatives of the Taiwanese suspects reportedly asked Taiwanese authorities to prevent those arrested from being taken to China, saying it would be difficult to access them and they feared that the Chinese justice system would hand down heavy punishments.