92 Taiwanese indicted for cross-border telecom fraud in Montenegro

Taiwanese suspects accused of cross-border telecom fraud in Montenegro.Photo courtesy of the Taichung District Prosecutors' Office

TAICHUNG (CNA) — Ninety-two Taiwanese suspects accused of cross-border telecom fraud in Montenegro were indicted Wednesday in Taiwan, after they were repatriated in several groups over the past few months.

The Taiwanese are suspected of defrauding Chinese nationals, in a scheme that had been in operation since last September, according to the Taichung District Prosecutors’ Office, which indicted the 92 people.

Working at several call centers set up between September 2019 and January 2020 in Montenegro, the suspects allegedly fleeced over 2,000 Chinese victims of approximately NT$632.78 million (US$21.17 million) in total, the office said.

The 92 suspects were arrested in early January when Montenegro police, in collaboration with Taiwan law enforcement officers, raided three call centers and seized relevant evidence, in Podgorica, the capital of the European country, according to Taichung prosecutors.

On Jan. 15, Taiwan filed a request with Montenegro authorities for the return of the Taiwanese suspects and access to the evidence, the office said.

An agreement on the transfer of the case, the first of its kind between Taiwan and a European country, was reached in February for the suspects to be repatriated, the office added.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the 92 Taiwanese were brought back in five groups, with the last one arriving March 15, and they were placed in quarantine, although there are no confirmed cases of the disease in Montenegro, prosecutors said.

The suspects were indicted Wednesday on charges of violating the Organized Crime Prevention Act and the Human Trafficking Prevention Act and committing fraud, prosecutors said.