Myanmar Hands Over 31,000 Telecom Scammers to China

Published: 24 November 2023

Telecom Fraud

China arrests 31,000 people suspected of telecom fraud. (Photo: Bob Mical, Flickr, License)

By Zdravko Ljubas

Chinese officials said Tuesday that Myanmar authorities have handed over 31,000 telecom network fraud suspects, all of whom are Chinese nationals, to China since police agencies of both countries launched a crackdown on online fraud in September.

Those arrested include 63 behind-the-scenes “financiers” and ringleaders of the criminal network behind the online scam scheme, according to the Ministry of Public Security of the People’s Republic of China.

Most of the suspects were arrested in northern Myanmar regions bordering southwest China.

“A large number of overseas fraud dens have been successfully eradicated, dealing a heavy blow to overseas fraud groups,” the ministry said.

Among those turned over to Chinese authorities were three leaders of the telecom fraud criminal ring operating in the Kokang self-administered zone of northern Myanmar: Ming Guoping, Ming Julan, and Ming Zhenzhen. A fourth leader of the gang, Ming Xuechang, committed suicide to avoid arrest.

According to Chinese media sources, more than 100,000 people commit telecom fraud every day in at least 1,000 scam centers in Myanmar. The centers are protected by border guard forces aligned with Myanmar’s military junta, according to the U.S. Institute for Peace.

The battle against crime on the border is complicated by the activities of Myanmar rebels who seek to topple the junta. The Voice of America (VOA) reported that the rebels conducted a series of coordinated attacks against the border guards known as “Operation 1027” as part of their fight against the junta – the rebels say this helped China’s crackdown on transnational crime in the region, particularly the cybercriminals who target Chinese consumers.

According to the Institute of Peace assessment, the coordinated rebel attack has made rapid gains across the region, overrunning more than 100 junta outposts and taking at least four towns, including a key border crossing with China.