Indonesia arrests 85 Chinese nationals in phone scam

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesian police said Tuesday they have arrested 85 Chinese citizens for involvement in a cross-border telephone and Internet fraud ring after receiving a tip from Chinese police.

The suspects, including 11 women, were paraded at a police news conference in the capital, Jakarta, a day after being arrested.

Jakarta Police Chief Gatot Eddy Pramono said the suspects were arrested in several raids in Jakarta and East Java’s Malang city. Police believe they are members of a telephone fraud and online investment scam syndicate.

Pramono said most of their targets appeared to be fellow Chinese who were called over the internet and tricked into transferring money to them. A preliminary investigation showed the gang collected at least 36 billion rupiah ($2.5 million) over the past year.

He said members of the syndicate had come from China to Indonesia for three months at a time since last year, using tourist visas.

“They were committing the crimes from Indonesia after China cracked down their networks,” Pramono said.

He said Indonesian police are working closely with immigration officials and Chinese police in dealing with the suspects.

Six Indonesian helpers who worked with them were also detained, but Pramono said they were not directly involved in the scam.

In 2017, Indonesia arrested at least 419 Chinese and Taiwanese citizens who were involved in a similar case. They were repatriated to face charges in their homeland after spending two months in Indonesian jails and being fined $770 for violating their tourist visas.

Pramono said Indonesia and China vowed to strengthen cooperation to prevent similar crimes in the future.

No details about the nature of the fraud were given. Such scams generally involve suspects obtaining personal information or prompting victims to transfer funds to overseas bank accounts.

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