Raid at Malaysia phone center nabs hundreds for online scam

Malaysian authorities have arrested hundreds of Chinese nationals after raiding a suspected online scam syndicate near Kuala Lumpur, officials said Thursday.

Dozens of detained Chinese nationals sit on the floor at the Malaysian Immigration Department in Cyberjaya, Malaysia, on Thursday following a raid that officials say nabbed nearly 700 people. Photo by Ahmad Yusni

Authorities stormed a building that housed a call center in Cyberjaya and detained more than 600 people. Investigators said about 100 others escaped through a window.

“During the operation, 680 nationals from China comprising 603 men and 77 women aged between 19 and 35 were detained,” Malaysia Immigration Department Director-General Khairul Dzaimee Daud said Thursday. “Some of them attempted to attack immigration officers.”

Authorities said the syndicate lured users of WeChat and Chinese banks with a sophisticated operation that offered handsome and quick returns on transactions. Immigration officials said they’d operated in Malaysia for six months.

WeChat is China’s most popular messaging app and claims more than a billion monthly users.

“We seized around 8,230 [cellphones], 174 laptops and 787 computers,” Daud said. “Several of our officers were injured after a group attacked and tried to break through our barricade.”

Officials said workers at the call center entered Malaysia with social visit passes and most did not have a passport.

“No representative has come forward with their documents and the Chinese embassy has been notified of developments,” Daud added.

ByClyde Hughes