A criminal network set up a clandestine call center in a luxury villa where 17 kidnapped young Taiwanese were forced to cheat people in China

When police they entered that house, situated on a street of luxury villas in Cascais, PJ inspectors could barely see who they were and what exactly those figures were sitting in front of computers with headphones on their ears and speaking to small microphones.

This report is from Diario de Noticais – It makes fascinating reading

Outside it was broad daylight, shortly after lunchtime, but inside that house it was always nighttime, permanently darkened with cloths covering the windows to avoid prying eyes. It stank of tobacco and there were butts everywhere, as well as crumpled plastic cups with leftover coffee.

The ten-and-a-half judiciary operatives braved the darkness, began opening windows, and their faces became faces. Some scared, others indifferent. There were 17 in all – 11 boys and six girls in their 20s and 30s, Taiwanese, and they spoke no language other than Mandarin

A few days earlier, two Taiwanese police officers had been at PJ’s headquarters in Lisbon, with the director of the National Counterterrorism Unit (UNCT), Manuela Santos, with the information that a criminal network in that country, which was dedicated to circumventing it. people over the phone and would have bases in several European countries, could now be using Portugal, on the Cascais line, as a logistics base.

Clandestine call center

The investigation turned attention to that address, a luxury villa that had been rented for six months for eight thousand euros a month.

The scheme had been known to the Taiwanese authorities for some time, but no other police had caught it.

They rent houses for a short time in European countries to install telephone and computer equipment, with enhanced internet capacity, functioning as authentic ‘ call centers’ , from which they make contacts to China, bypassing thousands of Chinese.

“The well-designed and well-trained modus operandi entails forcing the abducted young people to pose as officials of Chinese police and government officials who contact people to convince them that they have access to forbidden content on the internet and have to pay a fine to not be detained “, explains Manuela Santos to DN.

Each call center is typically comprised of 15 to 20 people, with a single person who handles contacts, organization, work and schedules. Someone else is in charge of daily logistics, buying food and other necessities for the ‘workers’.

The 17 young people kidnapped at the Cascais house had been enticed in Taiwan, with the promise of easy, well-paid work in Europe – never telling them what their particular destination was.

“At first they thought they were going to France, but then they came to Portugal. They landed in Lisbon in March and were put in a van directly to the Cascais house, where they never left until we were released in our operation in late May. “reveals the head of the UNCT.

As soon as the young men arrived at the Cascais house, the man who brought them from Taiwan (and who was detained by the PJ) took their passports and personal mobile phones and was then told what they had to do: their mission was to deceive other Chinese. Under the threat that if they refused, their families and friends would retaliate.

A complete script for the swindle

They were given a script with the steps of the approach they had to take to convince those who would be their ‘victims’.

They trained the speeches with each other, perfecting the type of language and mastery of technical concepts, until the recruiter understood that they were fit for real telephone contacts.

Already with the scheme well worked and trained, they were posing as a police or judicial authority that approached the person saying that he had committed an illegal access to internet content not allowed in China. “It may happen that the target does not even have internet, but as they are calling thousands of numbers through a computer application, there is always someone who meets and fits this vulnerability,” says Manuela Santos.

In the first phase there was no talk of money, but then contacts followed, with new papers prepared. Young people pretended to be powerful government officials who dramatized the situation and put pressure on the person to solve the problem

At this time various personal information was being requested from victims, from the composition of their household, to their activity and income. Everything was pointed out on pre-prepared sheets of paper.

The UNCT brigade seized some of these notes in Mandarin, which it showed to DN, but most were destroyed and stored in black garbage bags scattered around the house. “After completing the operation and the money was transferred it was all shredded into machines,” says chef Santos Martins.

The information obtained from this contact served to better prepare the next approach. In the third and final stage, an amount of money was then required to prevent the arrest of the person, who was informed that an arrest warrant had already been issued on his behalf.

Alarmed, everyone opted to transfer to an IBAN provided to them by the group. “The earnings are estimated at thousands of euros,” says Manuela Santos.

A blatant historical

In the PJ operation, two members of the organization were arrested. Twenty-five mobile phones were seized, as well as so many laptops and various wireless equipment – calls were made with mobile phones without cards, only through wifi .

All defendants and young victims have already returned to Taiwan, as the Portuguese investigation aimed to dismantle this criminal core within the Taiwanese inquiry.

The successful operation was kept under reserve at the request of the Taiwanese authorities as they intended to complete the investigation in that territory.


The 11,000 kilometers separating Portugal from Taiwan were no frontier for this investigation and, with the contribution of the PJ operation, the country’s police were able to arrest the head of the network this week.

The Taiwanese Criminal Investigation Office praised police cooperation, in a process that, as the PJ pointed out in its official statement on Tuesday, had a historic moment: “This was the first time in Europe that police authorities had been able to dismantle in full performance, such an organized group “.



On 26th august Police detained a 27- and 28-year-old couple suspected of exposing or abandoning a child by leaving their 3-year-old daughter alone for 14 hours in a house in the parish of Star in Lisbon.

“PSP police learned that a child was crying on a terrace alone. Unable to contact the residents of the housing, the police entered the property and removed the child, as her safety was in danger, ”explains the Metropolitan Command of Lisbon (Cometlis) of PSP, in a statement released today.

Already in contact with the “visibly frightened” child, the police found that the girl “had no access to food or water and had a red colour on her face,” indicating “she was exposed to solar radiation whilst on the balcony”.

The child was later taken to the Dona Estefânia Hospital in Lisbon, and after being discharged, “was sent to a shelter where she is being looked after,” the statement said.

“It was later possible to locate the suspects, parents of the child, who during detention and faced with the facts, admitted leaving the child alone in the room since the early afternoon of August 23 [Friday], for about 14 hours, ”says Cometlis, adding that the detention took place at 3:40 am on Saturday.

Police source told the Lusa agency today that the couple, of Ukrainian nationality, are not resident in Portugal.

The detainees were present at the Criminal Instance of the Judicial Court of the District of Lisbon, and were applied the measure of coercion of term of identity and residence.

The process is now with the prosecutor.


Lisbon, 27 Aug 2019 (Lusa) – A man has been arrested and another accused, both Chinese, on suspicion of trafficking, kidnapping and coercion in an operation that took place in June in the Cascais area, the Judiciary Police said today.

According to PJ, the arrests took place following a request by the National Police of Taiwan to cooperate in a case where several Taiwanese citizens were victims of trafficking being held in Portugal under duress and under slavery”.

The National Counter Terrorism Unit (UNCT) located a detached house in the Cascais area where it found and rescued the 17 citizens being deprived of their freedom, documents and unable to maintain contact with the outside.

“At the time of the police action, the two defendants were also found there. It was found on the spot that citizens were coerced into contacts via the Internet, in a scam scheme set up by the detained defendant, with citizens from mainland China, who were extorted high sums under threat of police and judicial persecution in that country ”, explains the PJ

During the operation, several dozen telephone and telecommunications equipment, computer equipment, documents and money were seized.

A man was present at the court interrogation, and was presented as a coercive measure to the police three times a week.

“Given the continuing investigations by the Taiwanese authorities into the prosecution of the principal perpetrators of this illegal activity, the judicial police action has not until now been publicly disclosed,” it said.

The PJ further states that, “Currently several people have been detained and more than a dozen others identified in this criminal scheme in that country.”

In the note, the PJ recalls that this was the first time in Europe that police authorities were able to dismantle such an organized group in full swing.



Taiwanese police announced on Friday 23rd August that they in cooperation with Portuguese police had dismantled in Cascais, Portugal, a network that allegedly defrauded victims in mainland China over the telephone.

In a statement, the Taiwanese Criminal Investigation Bureau (CIB) highlighted that this is the first case of police cooperation with Portugal through the Portuguese Ministry of Internal Affairs.

The group’s alleged leader, a Taiwanese by the nickname Hsi, decided in March to set up an electronic fraud operation in Portugal.

According to Taiwanese media, the man spent two million Taiwanese dollars (57,000 euros) to recruit 19 Taiwanese, most of them unemployed or financially challenged young people earning a salary of 25,000 Taiwanese dollars (714 euros), along with part of the profits from the operation.

According to the CBI, some members of the group were posing as employees of a mainland China telecommunications company, trying to convince the victims that their mobile phone was being used to send spam messages.

Other members would later call impersonating Chinese police and prosecutors, warning that the victim’s bank account would be frozen and demanding the transfer of money to a group-controlled account.

According to Taiwanese media, in just one week the victims will have lost more than three million Taiwanese dollars (86,000 euros).

Last May the CBI received information about this group and, in cooperation with the Portuguese police, detected the base of this network in Cascais.

That same month, Portuguese police launched a field operation that resulted in the arrest of 19 suspects and the seizure of nine computers, nine tablets and 24 mobile phones.

However, Hsi and an alleged accomplice were only caught by Taiwanese police on Monday in the town of Zhubei in northwest Taiwan.

Of the 19 suspects detained in Cascais, only one has agreed to be tried in Portugal, and the rest have been extradited to Taiwan.

In recent years several networks of scammers from mainland China and Taiwan have been detected who from Africa, Southeast Asia and Oceania were posing as police and government officials.

In several of these cases Taiwanese citizens accused of fraud were deported to mainland China, something that aroused protest from the Taiwanese authorities.


Call handlers working for the police insult victims of fraud and have been trained to mislead them into thinking their cases will be investigated when most are never looked at again. Report by The Times

An undercover Times reporter was among staff who were banned from telling victims that the overwhelming majority of their cases are dismissed, either by low-wage employees at an outsourced call centre or a computer algorithm.

Managers in charge of collating police fraud reports also mocked those who lost money as “morons”, “screwballs” and “psychos”.

As online and cold calling-scams surge, increasing numbers of people are losing to fraud. Last year there were an estimated 3.6 million incidents, more than a third of all crimes in England and Wales.

The Home Secretary has demanded a review of Action Fraud’s performance after an undercover reporter found training cut short, managers referring to victims as ‘morons’ and staff acting unprofessionally in the call centre and on social media.

The City of London Police has launched an investigation into the investigative article’s findings published in The Times newspaper on Thursday (August 15).

Its reporter obtained a job at Action Fraud’s Scottish call centre, outsourced to US firm Concentrix by City of London Police, using his own name.

Covert footage shows inexperienced call handlers, allegedly as young as 16, taking victims’ reports after only two weeks of training.

Call centre managers mocked police interest in the reports and posted unprofessional comments on their personal social media accounts. One individual claimed to be drunk while at work.

They also called victims “morons”, “screwballs” and “psychos” for falling for scams.

Training Manager Michael Rodgers is seen telling staff not to tell victims how their report is assessed or how it is classified.

“Never disclose there’s a scoring system. Could you imagine having that conversation with somebody where you say that’s not going to score high enough so you’re kind of wasting your time,” he said.

He was also accused of cutting short the training call handlers receive.

The Times said it carried out the undercover investigation after hearing of concerns that reports to Action Fraud were not being investigated.

Home Secretary Priti Patel has written to the City of London Police Commissioner expressing her concerns over allegations made in the article.


Four staff members have been suspended by Concentrix as it launched its own internal investigation.

Commander Karen Baxter is leading the City of London Police review of allegations made by the undercover reporter.

She said: “The incidents he describes do not represent the standards of work and ethics we expect from anyone associated with the City of London Police. We will be carrying out an immediate examination of standards and requiring our agents to do the same.

“It is important to emphasise that we know that the vast majority of the staff who work for Action Fraud do a good job in sometimes difficult circumstances, and we would not want this to deter members of the public from coming forward and reporting fraud.”

Action Fraud was transferred to the City of London Police in 2014.

Speaking to Police Professional earlier this month Ms Baxter described it as “not perfect but the envy of the rest of the world”.

A Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services thematic report, published in March this year, said fraud is not a priority for any law enforcement agency outside of those with a responsibility to investigate it at a national level.

Ms Baxter says forces do not have the resources to investigate all reports referred to them. She said: “Fraud is a disgusting, horrible type of crime that permeates the worst end of criminality. The harm it causes is significant, it needs to be seen alongside child exploitation and the level of harm caused by drugs and firearms.”

She said the inspection was helpful in raising the issue up the political and policing agendabut chief constables currently face the stark choice of whether officers will investigate a burglary, weapon, human trafficking or fraud.

Reports from the public and businesses have grown to over 900,000 in the last year. However, the Crime Survey of England and Wales shows fraud is massively under-reported. It showed it is the most common crime experienced by individuals, with 3.6 million offences committed against members of the public each year.


The Association of Police and Crime Commissioners’ (APCC) Fraud Lead, PCC Clive Grunshaw, and Deputy Fraud Lead, PCC Anthony Stansfeld, said: “Speaking on behalf of all Police and Crime Commissioner colleagues, we are deeply concerned by the content of The Times report on failings in Action Fraud. Victim care should be at the very heart of a whole system approach to combat this vile crime, whereby criminals often target the most vulnerable in our communities.


“The Association of Police and Crime Commissioners support the recommendations from the recent HMICFRS thematic inspection of fraud, particularly in relation to Action Fraud and wider victim care. We will be seeking assurances from the City of London Police that the recommendations are being urgently progressed and the allegations in this report are being properly investigated.”



Aug 2019 (Lusa) – Ryanair crew members begin a five-day strike until Sunday, called by the National Civil Aviation Flight Personnel Union (SNPVAC) and which has minimum services enacted by the Government.

On Tuesday, Ryanair said it did not expect “significant disruption” from the strike, but pointed out that it could not “rule out some delays” or changes in flights.

“Passengers who have not received an ’email’ or message can expect their flights to and from Portugal to take place normally this week,” the company said.

In the meantime, given that there was no agreement between Ryanair and the union, the Portuguese Government has enacted minimum services to be performed during the strike, covering not only the Azores and Madeira, but also the European cities of Berlin, Cologne, London and Paris.

NOTE: A check of Ryanair flights this morning 21st August show up to 0900 hrs all have departed at normal from Faro, Lisbon and Porto.

Read more

Thus, the minimum services include a daily round trip flight between Lisbon and Paris; between Lisbon and Berlin; between Porto and Cologne; between Lisbon and London; between Lisbon and Ponta Delgada, as well as a round-trip connection between Lisbon and Terceira Island (Lajes) today, Friday and Sunday.

SNPVAC criticized this decision and “vehemently repudiated” the minimum services and the Government’s rationale for imposing them.

In a statement, the union said it “vehemently repudiates yet another attempt by the government to annihilate the right to strike of the Portuguese and, in particular, Ryanair’s crew”, ensuring that it does not accept “defending the economic interests of a private company and to the detriment of the rights of Portuguese workers.

On August 9, the union reported that the airline had sent crew members an ‘online’ questionnaire to see if they would participate in the shutdown.




Case has already been reported to the Public Prosecution Service

Aliens and Borders Service awaits the “rapid clearance of responsibilities”.

The Aliens and Borders Service (SEF) announced today that it has filed a complaint with the prosecutor of evidence of a crime of aiding illegal immigration due to the alleged sale of service slots on classified ad portals.

The entry was presented in May, pending SEF’s “quick clearance of responsibilities” following reports that “service vacancies were allegedly being sold through online classified ad sites.”

In a statement, the SEF referred to the “misuse” of the Automatic Scheduling System (SAPA) through computer systems (called ‘bots’ that simulate actions on a computer) and’ well-founded suspicions of catching vacancies by individuals, based on service package ‘orders’ which include scheduling and order preparation for the SEF “.

According to the Aliens and Borders Service, there was “an abnormal volume of access to the SAPA scheduling system”, namely on April 26 and May 8, “after the release of 2,000 appointment vacancies”, which were filled in a short period of time.

In view of this, SEF decided to make vacancies available on the booking computer system and to activate the “reCAPTCHA” (dialog box system) functionality on the SAPA portal authentication page, regretting “the disturbances and the constraints” in the bookings made to users.




The National Union of Hazardous Drivers (SNMMP) announced this afternoon that it has decided to call off the strike that began last Monday.

The decision announced by SNMMP president Francisco São Bento and was taken during a plenary of union workers, which took place this afternoon in Aveiras de Cima and lasted about three hours.

The stoppage, which began on Monday, the 12th, was initially called by SNMMP and the Independent Drivers Union (SIMM), but the latter called off the protest on Thursday evening following a meeting with ANTRAM under mediation. Government.

“The conditions are in place for us to negotiate with Antram, it was decided today to call off the strike,” Pedro Pardal Henriques told reporters on Sunday at 1940 hrs after the end of the plenary session of the National Union of Hazardous Drivers (SNMMP), which on the seventh day of the standstill was gathered in Aveiras de Cima.


Navy and Air Force rescue tuna crew that sank early Wednesday morning.

“The boat was hit by a wave, the water got in the boat and it sank. It was all of a sudden, we didn’t have time to trigger the alerts. The sea was very strong. In 43 years of experience, nothing like this ever happened to me. ”

This is how Master Gregory recalls the moments that led to the sinking of the ‘Setemar’ and left seven drifting fishermen for four days and three nights off Madeira. They were saved this Saturday afternoon when a tragedy was already in sight, after a Navy and Air Force operation located the ferry that allowed them to survive to tell the story.

The seven fishermen, aged 23 to 61, who had set sail for tuna fishing late Tuesday afternoon, were found early Saturday afternoon by an Air Force aircraft that had been mobilized for the search. . Quickly, two Navy vessels that were in the same operation were directed to the location, 40 kms from the point where they had last made the communication.

The warning was given on Friday by the vessel’s owner, who informed the Funchal port commander that ‘Setemar’ had not communicated for two days. The Navy sent an ocean patrol and a speedboat to the area, but due to the lack of results and the increased search area, an Air Force C295 from Porto Santo was fired.

“We’re fine and that’s what matters,” says master Gregory, who always believed they would be saved.


Madrid, 16 Aug 2019 (Lusa) – A joint operation by the Spanish Civil Guard, the Judiciary Police and the GNR dismantled a drug trafficking network aimed at trafficking cocaine into the two countries, detaining a total of 14 people.

According to the Spanish news agency EFE, the drug would be brought in by sea using a vessel trailer that appeared empty, but at the time it was equipped with a sophisticated hydraulic system that could carry more than 300 kilograms.

According to the Civil Guard, the so-called Operation Mansalva resulted in the arrest of 14 people, 11 in Pontevedra, two in Valencia and one in Portugal.

In addition, the operation was able to seize almost half a ton of cocaine (475 kilos).

According to the same source, the investigations have prevented the delivery of more than 300 kilograms of cocaine in Spain, which was being transported from Galicia to Valencia.

The police operation also prevented the entry into Portugal of 175 kilos of cocaine, which was being transported from the province of Pontevedra to the centre of the country.

The Judiciary Police of Porto and the Republican National Guard (GNR) carried out this operation near Coimbra and detained the person carrying the drug.

Police explained that the criminal network had “very advanced contacts and preparations” to introduce a new drug shipment to Galicia by sea from South America, but they could not carry out the operation because all members of that criminal organization were arrested.

Police also seized 12,000 euros in cash, 12 satellite phones, four double-bottomed vehicles and a trailer.

The guard also discovered a marijuana plantation with a thousand plants.

Investigations began, according to the Civil Guard, a year ago, when officers learned of a Pontevedra-based criminal group of people with a history of drug trafficking.

The operation is accompanied by the Quart de Poblet investigative courts and coordinated by the prosecution offices of Valencia and Pontevedra, with the police system having organized crime specialists from Galicia, Alicante, Pontevedra and Cadiz.