Indonesia says will deport 103 Taiwanese suspected of cybercrimes in Bali

Sting operation nets 91 men, 12 women with hundreds of devices, accused of cross-border cyber-fraud and visa violations.

Detained Taiwanese line up at a detention center in Jimbaran, Bali, Indonesia
Suspects accused of misusing their visas and residence permits as well as possible cybercrimes, are lined up at a detention centre in Jimbaran, Bali, Indonesia, on June 28, 2024 [Firdia Lisnawati/AP Photo]

Indonesian immigration officials say they have arrested 103 Taiwan passport holders suspected of running a cybercrime operation out of Bali.

Immigration officials on the popular holiday island raided a villa in Tabanan district on Wednesday, arresting 12 women and 91 men found with hundreds of mobile phones and other electronic devices.

They were suspected of conducting “activities related to cybercrime activities” and of “misusing their visas”, and will be deported, Bali Immigration Director Saffar Muhammad Godam said at a news conference on Friday, as he displayed laptops and routers.

Indonesian officials could not charge them because the alleged crimes fell outside their jurisdiction, targeting individuals outside the country, but they were “closely working together” with related authorities, including those in Malaysia, he said.

Taiwan passport holders who are detained on allegations of conducting cybercrime and visa violations are lined up on the ground following a raid on a villa in Tabanan, Bali
The suspects were detained on cybercrime and visa violation allegations after a raid on a villa in Bali [Handout/Ditjen Imigrasi via AP]

Authorities distributed photos showing dozens of detainees lying on their stomachs next to a swimming pool and the three-storey villa. All are being held at a detention centre in Denpasar, Bali, subject to “administrative immigration actions”, said Godam.

Indonesia is investigating whether the group might have ties to international syndicates.

Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said its de facto embassy in the country had been told that of the 103 arrested, only 14 were suspected of being Taiwanese.

The proliferation of cyber-fraud groups across Southeast Asia has become a growing concern, with authorities in countries like China, Indonesia and Malaysia stepping up efforts to stop them.

Indonesia, with tip-offs from Chinese authorities, has previously confronted international cybercrime networks targeting victims in China.

In 2018, Bali police arrested 103 Chinese nationals, along with 11 Indonesians allegedly working for them, for running a multimillion-dollar cyber-fraud syndicate that targeted wealthy businessmen and politicians in China.

This came a year after the authorities deported 153 Chinese nationals involved in a network accused of fraudulently impersonating Chinese police or law officials, making about 6 trillion rupiah ($367m) from late 2016.

Source: News Agencies