Seventy-eight Chinese and Taiwan nationals were arrested as authorities swooped down on an alleged international financial fraud syndicate in Davao City Wednesday afternoon, a police official said.

The foreigners, comprised of 47 males and 31 females, were arrested when members of of the Davao City Police, 11th Criminal Investigation and Detection Unit, and six policemen from the Taiwan Criminal Investigation Bureau conducted simultaneous raids on three “safehouses” 3:30 p.m., city police director Senior Supt. Ronald dela Rosa said.

The safehouses were located in Valgozon Compound, Velazco Subd., Brgy. Bangkal; Ilang-ilang corner Santan sts., Villa Josefina Village, Brgy. Matina; and Dahlia Circle-loops sts., Ladislawa Village, Brgy. Buhangin.

Confiscated from the sites were a number of electronic devices set up like “call centers,” Dela Rosa said.

Agents of the call centers scare people, mostly elderly folk in China and Taiwan, by telling them they have multiple bank accounts which the government suspects of being used in money laundering, according to the police official.

“Tinatakot nila ‘yung victims na io-operate ng ‘police,’ then ia-advise na i-transfer lahat ng laman ng kahit nag-iisang bank account nila sa account nitong grupo para hindi ma-confiscate ng government nila. Yuan was used in most of the transactions but if you translate them to US dollars, this syndicate has already collected millions,” Dela Rosa said.

The raids were implemented through three search warrants for violation of Republic Act 8484 (Access Devices Regulation Act of 1998) and Article 315 (Estafa) of the Revised Penal Code, he said.

Two of the warrants were issued by Davao City Regional Trial Court Branch 5 Judge Isaac Robillo Jr. and the other, by Branch 15 Judge Ridgway Tanjili, Dela Rosa said. (John Roson)

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