Indonesian Law Enforcement Arrests 88 Chinese Nationals Working In Call Center Over Online Romance Scams
Indonesian police have arrested 88 Chinese nationals on suspicion of running online romance scams. The suspects, who were arrested in a raid on a rented house in Jakarta, are accused of using fake profiles to befriend people on social media and then conning them out of money.
The suspects allegedly targeted victims in Indonesia, China, and other countries. They would pose as wealthy foreigners and strike up relationships with their victims. Once they had gained the victims’ trust, they would ask for money for various reasons, such as medical expenses or travel costs.
The investigation into the scam began in May 2023, when a victim in Indonesia reported to the police that she had been conned out of $10,000. Police then traced the money to the rented house in Jakarta.
The 88 suspects are facing charges of fraud and electronic money laundering. If convicted, they could face up to 20 years in prison and deportation to China where they could face additional charges and a devastating lifetime social credit score.
This is not the first time that Indonesian police have arrested Chinese nationals for running online romance scams. In 2022, police arrested 120 Chinese nationals on similar charges.
Online romance scams are a growing problem in Indonesia. In 2022, the Indonesian government’s anti-cybercrime agency received over 1,000 complaints about online romance scams.
The authorities are urging people to be wary of online romance scams. They advise people to never send money to someone they have met online and to be suspicious of anyone who asks for money for unexpected reasons.
According to the Associated Press:
BATAM, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesian police said Wednesday they have arrested 88 Chinese citizens for involvement in a cross-border telephone and online romance scam syndicate after receiving a tip from the Chinese security ministry.
The suspects, including five women, were arrested on Batam island, next to Singapore, said Riau Islands police spokesperson Zahwani Pandra Arsyad. They were working from a shophouse, a building with mixed commercial and residential use, in an industrial park. Police believe the suspects are members of a telephone fraud and online love scam syndicate, Arsyad said.
Most of their targets appeared to be fellow Chinese who were called over the internet and tricked into transferring money after the callers manipulated the “human emotion” of the victims, Arsyad said. A preliminary investigation showed the gang had been operating since early this year, ensnaring hundreds of victims in China, but it is unclear how much money they had collected.
“We are still investigating this case, including whether any Indonesians among the victims,” Arsyad said, adding that none of the suspects can speak or write the Indonesian language. “If there are none, we would deport all of them immediately.”