Spain extradited 94 Taiwanese to China to face telephone and online fraud charges, the indicted were transferred via plane by officials.
“The suspects arrived Friday morning at Beijing airport on a chartered flight. Footage on state broadcaster CCTV showed uniformed officers escorting them off the China Eastern plane one-by-one.” reads a post published by the AP press.
The Taiwan Central News Agency reported that Taiwan’s Foreign Ministry expressed “serious concern and strong regret.”
The investigation on the scam operations in Spain started in 2016, crooks targeted victims in China. A joint operation conducted by Chinese and Spanish Police allowed the identification of the people involved. In December, authorities raided 13 sites in Madrid, Barcelona and other cities in Spain.
These arrests could be considered as the result of the first joint operation conducted by China with a European country against telecom fraud.
According to the Chinese Public Security Ministry, the telephone and online frauds allowed the suspects to earn 120 million yuan ($17 million).
In the fraud scheme, the criminals impersonate Chinese authorities and attempt to trick victims into transferring money to accounts controlled by the scammers.
“Similar scams operate from several countries and usually prey on Chinese.” continues the AP. “The callers typically masquerade as Chinese authorities and pressure or persuade the victims to transfer money to the scammers’ accounts.”
Spainish authorities already extradited 225 suspects, 218 of which are Taiwanese.
Even is Taiwan split from China in 1949 during a civil war, Beijing still considers the country as part of its territory. The two governments signed an agreement in 2009 to join the efforts in the fight against the crime.
The tension between the countries peaked after the election of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen, that is not considered aligned with Chinese politic.
Chinese authorities asked foreign countries, including Spain, to move criminals to China where they would face severe sentence.
Taiwan evidently doesn’t agree with the decision of Spain authorities of extraditing the suspects to China, instead of its country.
Liu Zhongyi, the deputy director of the Chinese Criminal Investigation Bureau, highlighted the difficulties associated with international investigations that involve differed law frameworks implemented by different states, such as China and Spain.
“We have overcome various difficulties,” Zhongyi told CCTV.
Liu explained that many other criminal gangs operating in the China-Myanmar border area and in Southeast Asia are targeting Chinese citizens.
(SecurityAffairs – phone scam, online fraud)