Dozens of Chinese nationals were arrested in Indonesia on suspicion of running an online love scam syndicate that ensnared hundreds of victims in China, police said Wednesday.
Acting on a tip-off from their Chinese counterparts, Indonesian police arrested 83 men and five women at an industrial park in Batam city in Riau Islands province on Tuesday.
Police said the syndicate blackmailed hundreds of victims in China, many of whom were public officials. "We are investigating if there are any Indonesians among the victims. If there are none, the scammers will be deported immediately," Riau Islands police spokesman Zahwani Pandra Arsyad told AFP on Wednesday.
The alleged scammers pretended to have romantic feelings for their victims during video calls. The women scammers are accused of seducing the victims before asking them to engage in sexual acts during the calls while other suspects recorded the videos. The suspects then allegedly blackmailed their victims, threatening to release the videos on social media if they refused to send them money.
It is unclear how long the group had been operating and how much they had earned. Police had previously said many scammers had moved to Indonesia and other Southeast Asian countries after China cracked down on domestic networks.
In 2019, police arrested 85 Chinese nationals and six Indonesians over an online scam that tricked victims out of millions of dollars.