Chinese police nab 62 in 'biggest telecom fraud case'

GUIYANG • Police in China's Guizhou province have arrested 62 people for committing what is believed to be the biggest telecom fraud case on the mainland.

The 62 people, including 10 from Taiwan, are suspected of defrauding 117 million yuan (S$24 million) from the construction bureau of an economic development zone in the province's Duyun city.

The bureau reported the loss of the money from its bank account to police on Dec 29 last year.

The bureau's finance supervisor, who managed the bank account, was contacted by several people who claimed to be police officers, bank staff and procurators.

They told the supervisor that the bank account has to be reviewed and directed him to download software from a website so they could access the bureau's bank account.

Police said the fraud was masterminded by Taiwanese, who recruited mainlanders to make fraudulent telephone calls from Uganda, reported Xinhua news agency.

Local media said Chinese public security agencies in Guizhou had spent four months investigating the case, which affected about 180 people across 20 cities and provinces .

Chinese authorities registered 590,000 telecoms fraud cases last year, according to Chinese Ministry of Public Security statistics cited by Xinhua, up from about 100,000 in 2011, leading to losses of 22.2 billion yuan. Beijing has said that criminal gangs based in Taiwan are behind many of the scams.

China claims to have arrested 7,700 telecoms fraud suspects, of which about 4,600 are Taiwanese, in the past seven years. Many of the other suspects are said to be Chinese.

It was not immediately clear if the latest operation uncovered in Guizhou was linked to a group of suspects who were deported from Kenya to China earlier this month.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 25, 2016, with the headline 'Chinese police nab 62 in 'biggest telecom fraud case''. Print Edition | Subscribe