BANGKOK (AP) — Police in Thailand say they have arrested 44 people — 19 Chinese citizens and 25 Taiwanese — suspected of running a telephone scam.
The suspects made calls over the internet in which they claimed to be banking officials and accused their targets of financial crimes, Immigration Police said a statement received Monday.
The targets would then be put in touch with a fake policeman — also at the gang's headquarters — and told they could escape arrest by transferring the allegedly stolen money to a bank account belonging to the scam artists. The targets were usually in a different country than the gang members in an effort to shield the scammers from local laws.
Variations on this scam are common, and hundreds of people, mostly Chinese, have been arrested in recent years in neighboring Cambodia.
A major issue in such arrests, which normally end in deportation, is where the suspects are deported to. Although Taiwan maintains that it is independent, Taiwanese suspects have sometimes been deported to China, a measure of China's diplomatic influence backing its claim that Taiwan is part of its territory.
When an official extradition process is not instituted, the normal procedure is to deport people to their homelands. The suspects in Thai custody have had their visas revoked.
Immigration Police Chief Nattathorn Prohsunthorn said in the statement that police seized more than 100 cellphones, 19 ATM cards, 23 SIM cards, three modem routers, a wireless signal transmitter and a car. He said the gang operates from several countries.