Japan: Taiwan fraud ring broken up

Hua Mulan

Staff member

Lists of 150,000 Chinese seized at Taiwan fraud group’s bases in Japan

5:26 pm, May 17, 2019

Lists of about 150,000 Chinese, mostly elderly, have been confiscated at places in Japan that a Taiwanese fraud ring used to make phone calls targeting people in mainland China, it has been learned.

The documents were found by the Metropolitan Police Department when it investigated the ring’s bases — one each in Kofu and Koshu, Yanamashi Prefecture, and one in Togane, Chiba Prefecture — from which the Taiwanese group allegedly made international calls for its “It’s me” scam, according to investigative sources. About 50 to 60 members are believed to have entered Japan by pretending to be tourists, among other statuses.

The MPD is investigating the case in cooperation with authorities in China and Taiwan.

In March, the MPD arrested 10 people from Taiwan, aged in their teens to their 40s, on suspicion of violating the Immigration Control and Refugee Recognition Law by falsifying their purpose of entry and destination. Police then searched the three locations and confiscated Chinese-language manuals for making fraudulent phone calls, in addition to the lists.

According to the sources, analysis of the lists found that they included the names, phone numbers and other data of about 150,000 Chinese in various parts of China, including Sichuan and Fujian provinces. Written on the blank space of the lists were circles or cross marks, apparently indicating whether the calls had connected.

Some of the suspects admitted to the MPD that they played the role of making “It’s me” scam calls to elderly people in China, saying that they had made the international calls by referring to the manuals. The suspects also said that they were promised that if they were successful in deceiving their targets, they would be given nearly 10 percent of the defrauded money when they returned to Taiwan, according to the sources.

The bases used curtains and other items so that the insides could not be seen from outside, and there was also bedding at the houses. “Late at night around last autumn, a truck arrived here and more than 10 men were carrying about 20 each of futons, desks and chairs into the house,” said a woman who lives near the Kofu base.

The Taiwan fraud ring is believed to have moved its bases to Japan in an attempt to prevent being detected, as Chinese and Taiwan authorities are stepping up crackdowns on “It’s me” scams. The MPD believes that the group has several other bases in Japan in addition to the three locations, based on the statements by the suspects and its analysis of the confiscated items.

According to the sources, since the spring of last year, at least 50 to 60 members of the fraud ring have arrived in Japan from Taiwan posing as tourists and visitors for other purposes. The MPD is conducting further investigations, with an eye on applying fraud charges for the perpetrators.