Malaysian police have arrested 37 Chinese and Taiwanese nationals accused of running an Internet scam that tricked people into paying fake traffic fines, reports said Friday.
The 27 Chinese and 10 Taiwanese were rounded up in a raid Thursday on an apartment in Kota Kinabalu, the capital of Sabah state on Borneo island, the official news agency Bernama and New Straits Times daily reported.
The group is accused of calling individuals in China and telling them they had been issued a traffic summons, asking them to pay money into an online account to settle the fine or face court action.
Police, who acted on tip-offs from authorities in China and Taiwan, said they believed thousands of people were taken in by the scam.
"By operating round the clock, their modus operandi was to contact the victim in China using several prepared scripts," commercial crime investigation chief Syed Ismail Syed Azizan said according to Bernama.
The syndicate is believed to have moved its operations to Kota Kinabalu last month, shifting from China and Taiwan after authorities there got wind of its activities, the New Straits Times said.
Last year Malaysian police dealt with 1,201 Internet scams involving more than 20 million ringgit ($6.6 million) -- a huge increase from 2009, which saw 333 cases worth 4.3 million ringgit.