Manila - Philippine police on Thursday arrested 357 suspects, mostly from Taiwan and China, in a series of raids on alleged hideouts of a cybercrime syndicate targeting victims in China.
The suspects were rounded up from 20 houses in Manila and a nearby province in the Philippines' biggest police operation against cybercrime syndicates, according to Director Samuel Pagdilao Jr, chief of the national police's investigation unit.
The suspects, including two Philippine-Chinese who were allegedly the financiers of the syndicate, were transported to a police camp south of Manila where they would be detained while charges were being prepared against them, Pagdilao said.
Senior Superintendent Keith Singian, deputy director for operations of the investigation unit, said the suspects were using the Philippines as their base after Chinese authorities cracked down on them in 2010.
He said the syndicate's modus operandi involves the suspects posing as police officers and calling victims to tell them their bank accounts were being used for money laundering and funding terrorist activities.
The syndicate would then tell the victims to transfer their money to an allegedly safe account that the suspects would provide. The victims usually agree after being threatened with police action.
In April and May, police arrested 115 Taiwan and Chinese suspects operating a similar syndicate in Manila and the southern Philippines. In March, 144 people from Taiwan and China were arrested in Kuala Lumpur for similar operations. - Sapa-dpa