Taiwanese police said Thursday they have arrested 800 suspected phone scammers in raids coordinated with police in China and seven Southeast Asian countries.
Taiwan's Crime Investigation Bureau said the suspects, including about 300 Taiwanese and 500 Chinese, were arrested Wednesday at 166 locations across Asia.
In a statement on its website, the bureau said those arrested were suspected of swindling more than 200 million yuan ($31 million) from mostly Chinese and Taiwanese victims.
In a typical scam, they placed phone calls in the guise of law-enforcement officials and fooled the victims into transferring funds to clear themselves of false drug or other offenses. Others lured victims into buying goods online that were never delivered.
They said many of the suspects fled to Southeast Asia to escape sweeping crackdowns at home. The joint operations involved more than 2,500 police across the region who arrested and deported the suspects to their own countries, Taiwanese police said.
In Cambodia, national police spokesman Kirth Chantharith said the country deported 60 Chinese and Taiwanese who entered the country posing as tourists or businessmen but were found to be involved in the swindling rings.
In Thailand, police officer Panya Mamen said four Malaysians were arrested in a Bangkok apartment Tuesday and deported to China for allegedly taking part in the scams.
In a similar operation in June, nearly 600 suspected scam artists were arrested.
The operations followed a 2009 agreement by Taiwan and China to tackle increasing cross-border crime. The two sides split amid civil war in 1949 but have improved their relations markedly in recent years.