MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine government on Wednesday deported 279 Taiwanese cyber fraud suspects arrested for victimizing their compatriots.
The Taiwanese nationals arrived at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) Terminal 1 before dawn Wednesday on board five heavily guarded buses. They left via two chartered flights.
Based on the flight information provided by the NAIA, the Taiwanese nationals left for Taipei, Taiwan via Eva Air flight BR 1272 and China Airlines flight CI 1707.
Members of the criminal gang allegedly made calls or sent emails posing as police officers or state prosecutors to dupe victims back home into believing their bank accounts were being used by terrorists.
The scam targeted elderly citizens and involved persuading victims to transfer their savings into another bank account controlled by the gang.
Philippines investigators were tipped off about the scam by Taiwanese and Chinese authorities in July. Twenty homes across Manila were subsequently raided by police last month to arrest those involved.
They were detained at a gymnasium in Camp Vicente Lim in Laguna along with over 80 Chinese nationals accused of the same charges and are also due deportation anytime this week.
The Taiwanese embassy in Manila on Monday called on the Philippines to send home its citizens due to the poor detention conditions.
At least one Taiwanese detainee has died and dozens have fallen ill due to poor conditions at the gymnasium where they have been held since their arrest.
Justice Secretary Leila de Lima previously ordered a halt to the deportation supposedly after President Aquino rebuked the Bureau of Immigration.
De Lima also stopped the deportation because she wanted to file criminal charges against them.
However, de Lima changed her mind on Friday and approved the deportation.
BI Spokesperson Atty. Ma. Antonette Mangrobang said the Chinese and Taiwanese cyberfraud suspects have been blacklisted in the Philippines. – with Agence France-Presse; and Johnson Manabat, dzMM