At least 680 Chinese nationals have been arrested and hundreds more are being tracked down after Malaysian immigration authorities busted an online scam syndicate.
Around 150 immigration officers on Wednesday launched an early morning raid on sixth-floor office premises in the town of Cyberjaya, in Selangor, as part of a carefully planned sting operation.
Immigration director general, Khairul Dzaimee Daud, told Arab News that investigations were still underway into the alleged scamming activities of the 603 men and 77 women, aged between 19 and 35, arrested during the bust.
The scam is believed to have targeted Chinese citizens by offering fast profits in return for investments through the popular social media platform WeChat Pay.
Working from the syndicate’s Cyberjaya base, operators would send a code to certain websites in mandarin and scam their victims’ money through WeChat services and banks in China.
Following tip-offs from members of the public, Malaysian authorities conducted a month-long surveillance of the building before mounting the raid during which officers seized thousands of items of electronic equipment, including 8,230 handphones, 787 computers and 174 laptops.
Daud said on Thursday that those arrested had violated Malaysia’s immigration laws by entering the country on social visit passes with some overstaying their visa time limits.
“All of the Chinese nationals could not produce their passports or travel documents after being arrested, and no representative could produce valid documents on behalf of them,” the immigration chief added.
A number of immigration officers required treatment for injuries after scuffles broke out during the bust, and up to 150 Chinese nationals are thought to have escaped from the building.
Aerial videos showing suspects jumping from windows and fleeing the building quickly went viral on social media.
“The immigration department will continue to be on the lookout for individuals involved in the scam activities and is working closely with the Malaysian central bank and the police,” added Daud.