19 con artists held incommunicado after being sent back from US

Taipei-Nineteen members of a Taiwanese fraud ring have been held incommunicado after being sent back from the United States, following their arrests in Los Angeles, the Investigation Bureau said Wednesday.

The 19 suspects, led by a Taiwanese man surnamed Chung and his girlfriend identified as Hsueh, have been detained by Taichung prosecutors following their arrests by a task force at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport during the June-July period, a bureau spokesman told a news conference.

Thanks to a tip-off the bureau's Taichung branch received two years ago, the suspects were arrested by bureau agents and U.S. customs officers at a villa in L. A., from where they were believed to operate their fraudulent schemes since entering the U.S. in April, the spokesman said.

An initial investigation showed that Chung and Hsueh were able to rent the villa through the help of a Taiwanese businessman in L.A., whose role in the case is being investigated, he said.

It was discovered that the ring had operated in Hungary, Ireland and Chile, and had swindled NT$90 million (US$2.86 million) from people living in China, he said.

Investigative agents have also searched the residence and dormitory of the ring members in Taipei, seizing cellphones and computers allegedly used by them to conduct fraud, the spokesman said.

Four luxury cars of brands Maserati, Ferrari, Mercedes-Benz and BMW, as well as pricey watches, diamond rings and expensive bags were also seized at the residence of Chung and Hsueh, according to the spokesman. He added that their bank accounts have been frozen.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel