Philippines detains 78 Taiwanese for phone fraud

DAVAO, Philippines - Philippine police said they detained 78 Taiwanese suspects Wednesday over a long-distance telephone scam in which the gang allegedly forced money out of victims in Taiwan and China.

The 78 suspects, mostly young people, were detained in raids on three houses in the southern city of Davao where police said they also confiscated computers that were allegedly used in committing widescale fraud.

Davao police chief Senior Superintendent Ronald de la Rosa said the gang members posed as debt collectors who threatened to unleash the police on the unsuspecting victims if they refused to pay up.

"They are operating like an international fraud syndicate victimising Taiwanese and Chinese nationals," de la Rosa said.

The gang apparently chose a provincial base in the Philippines to avoid detection, the police chief said.

The Filipino authorities were tipped off by Taiwanese police, said Rodrigo Duterte, the vice-mayor of Davao.

A representative from the Taiwanese police monitored the raids, Davao police said.

The Philippines does not have diplomatic ties with Taiwan as it recognises Beijing as the sole representative of China.

De la Rosa said the gang faced charges of large-scale fraud in Taiwan, but neither he nor Duterte would not say if the Filipino authorities will also file criminal charges.

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