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China arrests, repatriates hundreds of suspects in phishing scams

The suspects were arrested for extorting money and other goods from unsuspecting mobile phone customers in the region.

By
Elizabeth Shim
China's Ministry of Public Security has arrested nearly 400 suspects of an international phishing scam network on Tuesday, an operation that state media said involved the cooperation of a network of law enforcement bureaus in Indonesia, Cambodia and Taiwan. Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI.
China's Ministry of Public Security has arrested nearly 400 suspects of an international phishing scam network on Tuesday, an operation that state media said involved the cooperation of a network of law enforcement bureaus in Indonesia, Cambodia and Taiwan. Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI. | License Photo

BEIJING, Nov. 10 (UPI) -- China's Ministry of Public Security has arrested nearly 400 suspects in an international phishing scam network, and more than half of the suspects have been repatriated from Indonesia and Cambodia.

The police raid involved cooperation among a network of security bureaus in Shanghai, Beijing, Guangdong province, Taiwan, Indonesia and Cambodia. The suspects were arrested for extorting money and other goods from unsuspecting mobile phone customers in the region, Yonhap reported.

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China's Tencent News reported Beijing began to investigate the phishing scams in July, when they received a notice that about 45,000 illicit phone calls originating from Indonesia had resulted in 453 phishing scam victims in China and elsewhere. China dispatched security police and worked with local police in Indonesia to make the arrests.

Chinese police arrested about 200 suspects in Bali, Indonesia and several other locations, where the calls were reportedly made to scam victims. Hundreds more were arrested in Cambodia.

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The phishing scam involved suspects calling customers while pretending to be representatives of an e-commerce company. The customer information was obtained illegally, and the callers reportedly told customers that their accounts had been wrongly registered as business accounts, and that their personal information was needed to make the correct changes.

Once the information was obtained, police said the scammers began to siphon money deposited into individual accounts. Some crimes involved scammers impersonating police, threatening to prosecute customers for crimes unless they pay a fine.

Chinese state television network CCTV reported 254 suspects employed by the illicit group had been repatriated to China.

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Beijing, however, has yet to take action after hacking attacks that struck U.S. technology and pharmaceutical companies were detected in October, three weeks after Chinese President Xi Jinping had pledged to cease all state-backed cybersecurity activities.

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