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.