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Myanmar extradites online scam suspects to China

The scams targeting Chinese citizens angered Beijing - an ally and arms supplier for the internationally isolated junta
This photo taken on Sept. 25, 2022, shows Cambodian workers carrying belongings as they clear a building of Chinatown district in Sihanoukville in Preah Sihanouk province. Dozens of casinos sprang up in recent years in Sihanoukville following Chinese investment, making the city a hub for gamblers and drawing in international crime groups

This photo taken on Sept. 25, 2022, shows Cambodian workers carrying belongings as they clear a building of Chinatown district in Sihanoukville in Preah Sihanouk province. Dozens of casinos sprang up in recent years in Sihanoukville following Chinese investment, making the city a hub for gamblers and drawing in international crime groups. (Photo: AFP)

Published: August 25, 2023 04:41 AM GMT
Updated: May 23, 2024 05:06 AM GMT

Myanmar authorities have handed over seven people suspected of involvement in online scams targeting Chinese citizens to Beijing authorities, state media reported Thursday.

Criminal syndicates are accused of kidnapping or luring citizens of China and other countries to lawless enclaves along Myanmar's northern and eastern borders and forcing them to work as online scammers.

The scammers typically target their compatriots and groom them for weeks before cajoling them into ploughing money into fake investment platforms and other ruses.

Two suspects were handed to Chinese authorities at Yangon International Airport on Wednesday, according to a statement in the state-run Global New Light of Myanmar.

One of the men was a "pivotal figure in the realm of telecom fraud", the statement added without giving details.

Five more were handed over on Thursday, according to a statement from the Chinese embassy in Yangon.

"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 said, adding that the suspects had been taken to China.

In June, six other suspects implicated in online scam cases were extradited from Myanmar to China, according to the state-run newspaper.

The latest arrests come after China in July told Myanmar's junta to "root out" scam centres in its lawless borderlands targeting Chinese citizens.

The scams anger Beijing -- a major ally and arms supplier for the internationally isolated junta.

Victims have reported travelling to Myanmar, Cambodia, Thailand and Laos on false promises of romance or high-paying jobs, then being detained and forced to work swindling their compatriots online.

Authorities from China, Myanmar, Thailand and Laos had carried out a "special operation" targeting online scammers, the Global New Light and embassy statement said, without specifying if it had led to the recent arrests.

In June, Thailand cut electricity supplies to a Myanmar border town that is home to a billion-dollar development analysts say is a front for illegal gambling and online scam operations.

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