148 Chinese held over US$450m fraud

“This is an international syndicate of online fraud.”

Indonesian police have detained more than 150 people, most of them Chinese nationals, accused of carrying out a sophisticated scam that netted around US$450 million by tricking their victims into paying to make legal cases go away.

“This is an international syndicate of online fraud,” Jakarta police spokesman Argo Yuwono told a news conference. “The information first came from China’s police department, so this is a joint investigation.”

Police said the suspects, 148 Chinese nationals and the rest Indonesian, had been detained during weekend raids in Jakarta, Surabaya and the islands of Batam and Bali.

“The perpetrators are Chinese. The victims are Chinese. It just happens that they operate from Indonesia,” Yuwono said.

The syndicate first tracked down information on wealthy Chinese officials or businessmen with legal problems.

They were then contacted and told by the suspects they were from the attorney general’s office or the police and could “negotiate to stop the case” for payment.

“The information we got from China is that they have been in operation since the start of the year, and their profit has reached 6 trillion rupiah (US$450 million),” Yuwono said.

The suspects entered Indonesia on tourist visas and will probably be deported after police complete their investigation.

Special Reports