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269 Detained in Joint Cyber Scam Crackdown by Chinese and Myanmar Police

Darren Maung
Darren is an aspiring writer who wishes to share or create stories to the world and bring humanity together as one. A massive Star Wars nerd and history buff, he finds enjoyable, heart-warming or interesting subjects in any written media.
Published: September 6, 2023
China and Myanmar are stepping up efforts to hunt down and arrest those suspected of online scams.(Image: pixabay / CC0 1.0)

On Sept. 5, China’s Ministry of Public Security announced a joint crackdown between China and Myanmar that hunted down more than 260 suspects involved in cyber scams across Myanmar.

On Sept. 3, via a cross-border law enforcement mechanism, local security forces in Myanmar collaborated with police in Xishuangbanna Dai autonomous prefecture in Yunnan province in a joint operation that shut down 11 cyber scam bases in northern Myanmar, SCMP wrote.

No details were shared on how the crackdown was done, but it managed to detain 269 fraud suspects. Among them, 186 were Chinese nationals who were returned back to their country, a statement from the ministry read.

Recently, China has been hunting for Myanmar-based gangs that are luring Chinese nationals through investment fraud and false promises of love and employment before they are forced into working as cyber scammers. 

In its efforts to bolster ties with Southeast Asian countries, Beijing has reached out to Myanmar, Thailand and Laos to combat cybercrime, culminating in the setup of a coordination center in Chiang Mai, Thailand, to search for cybercrime gangs. 

This has come in the midst of mounting worries about “overseas telecoms fraud,” after the film No More Bets dominated the box office in China by tackling the issue.

Last month, seven suspects were extradited to China after being detained by Myanmar authorities for their involvement in online scams. One of the men was said to be the ringleader of the schemes, according to a statement by the state-run Global New Light of Myanmar.

“The suspects lured victims onto a false online investment platform… and induced them to make large investments after giving them smaller initial profits,” the statement added.

In June, six more suspects were also linked to online scams before being sent to China. In the Myanmar border town of Shwe Kokko, electricity supplies from Thailand were deliberately cut to root out a “billion-dollar development” believed to be a haven for illegal gambling and online scams.


Cyber crimes on the rise

Despite Beijing’s overreaching schemes, the United Nations (UN) has warned the world that Southeast Asia is vulnerable to online scams, as hundreds of thousands are being corralled into the shady business of illegal schemes, AP News reported.

According to the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, citing “credible sources,” around 120,000 people in Myanmar and another 100,000 in Cambodia “may be held in situations where they are forced to carry out online schemes.”

Laos, the Philippines and Thailand were also listed as prime destinations for criminal gangs to target migrants, luring others by “false recruitment” for supposedly real jobs. The rights office believes that billions of U.S. dollars in revenues are being generated every year by these scam operations, which operate in the loopholes of government response.

It is even reported that victims are physically tortured through “cruel punishments, sexual violence and arbitrary detention, among other crimes,” the office added.

Pia Oberoi, senior advisor on migration and human rights for the Asia-Pacific region at the UN human rights office, told reporters in Geneva that many of these scams originated from the COVID-19 pandemic, when casinos, that are essential to the economy close to the border zones, were shut down by lockdowns.

She also said that many people take part in a “so-called pig butchering scheme,” which sees them luring victims who believe “that they are speaking to somebody who is interested to be romantically involved with them.”

“It’s often men that are doing the scamming, pretending to be women,” Oberoi said.