Malaysia arrests scores over China, Taiwan scam

Malaysia arrested 83 people mostly from China and Taiwan over a huge scam that netted billions of dollars, a day after authorities busted a major betting and fraud ring, according to police.

The suspects -- 75 Taiwanese, six Chinese and two Malaysians -- were held during raids on four bungalows in Serdang on the outskirts of capital Kuala Lumpur Friday, said federal commercial crime director Syed Ismail Syed Azizan.

They are under investigation for running a fraud scheme, cheating people in China and Taiwan out of billions of dollars by calling them to settle phony credit card or other bank charges.

"We believe there is local involvement in this case," Syed Ismail said, adding all the suspects were under detention and the foreigners, who came to Malaysia in early March, faced deportation.

Last year the syndicate is believed to have netted $3 billion in China alone with the scam, said Syed Ismail, who said he had been informed of the amount by Chinese police.

The group originated in Macau but is believed to operate from other Southeast Asian countries such as Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand, Syed Ismail said.

The arrests followed a separate bust on Thursday in Kajang, near Kuala Lumpur, of a football betting and fraud ring that police say could have raked in up to $1.3 billion.

Police held about 150 people, almost all from China and Taiwan, following the Thursday raid. The arrests are the latest indication of rampant illegal sports betting in Asia.

Syed Ismail said the Serdang syndicate targeted Friday was not involved in football betting but that police had to move quickly after the Kajang raid.

He said Malaysian police had worked with their Taiwanese counterparts to monitor the group. When police arrived, the suspects were already getting ready to vacate three of the four houses.

Dozens of other people were arrested in another raid earlier this year in northern Penang state and two raids last year in relation to the group that originated in Macau, Syed Ismail said.

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