Friday, October 19, 2007

Taiwanese Fraud Gangs Spread the Love Across Asia

For quite some time now I've been arguing that the government needs to do more about the local fraud gangs that operate in conjunction with Chinese gangs and use the latest technology to carry out their operations. Now the Asahi Shimbun complains that gangs from Taiwan are operating all over Asia -- including a few based in my own Taichung (full apologies to all):

Taiwan has apparently become a stronghold of telephone fraud cases that have spread in some Asian countries.

Late last year, Taiwanese police arrested two men, aged 29 and 35, in connection with telephone fraud cases. At that time, police officers were surprised to see that the suspects had been committing crimes in Asian countries by subtly using high-tech tools from Taiwan.

The two, who were members of a group based in Taichung city in central Taiwan, allegedly defrauded TW$100 million (about 370 million yen) from hundreds of people living mainly in China, South Korea and Thailand.

According to the police, the two men bought several mobile phones overseas in order to make it hard for Taiwanese police to track them. Then, using the mobile phones, other high-tech devices and discount Internet Protocol (IP) telephone lines, they built a system that enabled them to automatically make bulk calls or inundate computers with e-mail messages.

They also recorded fake messages in several languages with the help of collaborators in Taiwan, China, South Korea and Thailand. For instance, one of the messages said, "Your telephone fee has not been paid yet."

The two kept sending such messages around the clock from Taiwan to other areas. When someone replied, they asked the person to transfer money from an ATM or a post office to an account opened under a fictitious name. One of the accounts was named, "Finance management bureau's joint account."

According to the Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB) of Taiwan, telephone scams started in Taiwan in the late 1990s and escalated into a serious social problem in 2000.

Also around the same year, some groups in Taiwan started to relocate their bases across the sea to Amoy in mainland China's Fujian province, and have since cheated people in and around the city in a similar manner in cooperation with local Chinese.

In recent years, such groups have made inroads into South Korea, Vietnam, Thailand and the Philippines, CIB officials said.

Here a local social problem has grown to have Asian implications that reflect negatively on The Beautiful Isle. Somebody needs to do something....


Unknown said...

Hmm, I am not sure if these fraud gangs and telephone fraudsters are so unique to China or Taiwan.
Here in Canada it is called telemarketing fraud, and they people the scammers target aren't simply gullible people, nor simply kind-hearted women, but old people. And it is big business. Last night, I was having a pint with my friend Abdellah, and Abedellah's friend told us he personally knows someone who made 35 million dollars off illegal telemarketing schemes. This guy is now buying a ranch and horses, etc.
Now, I don't know how much of it is exaggeration (35 million is an awful lot of money in one swoop), but... Well, it wouldn't surprise me.
Most illegal telemarketing is based in Montréal. A heck of a lot of legitimate telemarketing is based here in Montréal, too.
Do the police crack down on it? Yes, and very frequently, too. But there's only so much you can do, particularly when there are such large numbers of perpetrators, and when so much is difficult to prove. And when it is white collar crime like this, the perpetrator may go to jail for 7 months or whatever) but continue their shady business when they get out again. I am surprised that telemarketing scams aren't big in Taiwan in the same form as they are here. Usually, from what I have heard (and I am very familiar with someone in Taiwan who was scammmed once by them), Taiwanese scammers are outright scammers, claiming to be a friend of yours in the middle of the night or something, asking for 8000 NT dollars to be deposited in some bank account. This catching you off guard is actually quite clever. It is not quite as stupid as here, where they will try to sell you worthless products that either never arrive, or products they claim you have subscriptions to (like business directories, although, as I said, some of what seem like schemes are actually legitimate, so it's hard to tell)
that need renewing. And then, as I said, ones that target old people, claiming to be charities, or, is also, is it what you call widows-and-orphans schemes (I can't remember if that is the terminology they used on television), which is basically the Nigerian prince schemes but on telephone.
Taiwan fraudsters, of course, seem to be barely mentioned (almost not at all) in the news, at least in the China Post and Taipei Times, and I guess the police never bother trying to catch them. I think the country really needs specific legislation for it. Is such a thing possible, or is the government too corrupt or disunited?
Instead of covering some actors', actresses', or business managers' sexual pecadillos or profligacies as the latest scandal in the making, the news media should concentrate on proper journalism by covering serious stuff like this.
I have a feeling though, that telephone scams are an even bigger problem in Canada, particularly per capita-wise.

you love fatina said...

Unfortunately right now everything isn't so important because only the politics is most serious problem to the DDP government. That means it isn't the practical solution to hope the government or police can crackdown the gang. Residents have to be care for themselves.

Anonymous said...

Here in Taiwan, I learned that silence before a canned message meant ignore, with a live connection, just asking if the person can speak English ends the scam.

Oddly enough, my landlines and cell phones have not had these scams calling in ages.

Does the above make one think of the databases that these guys have,and where it comes from>