Police apprehend suspected medical clinic blackmailer

The China Post staff

Two people have been arrested in connection with several blackmailing cases in which the suspects had passed themselves as notorious criminals to extort some NT$1 million from more than a dozen clinics and hospitals in southern Taiwan, police said yesterday. The chief suspect, Pan Chia-wen, 27, and his underage girlfriend, surnamed Wang, were apprehended Thursday night at the man’s Chiayi County residence, police said, adding at least two other accomplices are still at large. The gang would mail threatening notes attached with bullets to small medical hospitals and clinics in Yunlin, Chiayi, and Tainan, claiming they were Lai Mao-sung and Hsueh Chiao, two notorious fugitives. They demanded sums ranging from NT$50,000 to NT$100,000, police said, adding they would usually extort the same victims twice.

They would use Lai’s name in the first letter of extortion, and when they got the money, they would send a “thank-you” note bearing Hsueh’s name, demanding more money, police said. In one case, the blackmailers even threatened to send the victim a hand grenade, police said. The Criminal Investigation Bureau set up a task force earlier this year to probe the cases, and identified Pan as a suspect following weeks of investigation. Police said the blackmailers were well-organized, operating from three different places. Pan wrote the blackmailing notes, and gave them to a suspect in Yunlin who was responsible for providing the bullets and delivering the notes. A third suspect in Taichung would then place telephone calls to the victims. Pan told police he had written a total of 26 notes, but he did not know how many more copies his accomplices had made. He also said they had sworn to one another that they would not divulge the others’ identities if any of them was nabbed. But police did not say whether Pan had maintained his oath.