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Indonesian police bust global love scam syndicate on dating apps

ndonesian police bust international love scam syndicate, arresting 21 individuals, including 19 Indonesians. Exploiting dating apps and cryptocurrency, the syndicate raked in US$2.5-3.2 million monthly

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INDONESIA: Indonesian authorities have successfully dismantled an international love scam syndicate, revealing a widespread network that has victimized hundreds of individuals from various countries.

Brigadier General Djuhandhani Rahardjo Puro, Director of General Criminal Investigation of the Indonesian National Police (Bareskrim Polri), disclosed the details to the media on Friday (19 Jan).

The police operation targeted criminals engaged in love scamming through online platforms, a crime that has become increasingly prevalent in the digital age.

Following intensive investigations, authorities apprehended 21 individuals, with 19 being Indonesian citizens and the remaining two being foreign nationals from China.

The arrests occurred last Thursday (17 Jan) in an apartment unit in the Grogol Petamburan area of West Jakarta.

The love scam syndicate employed dating applications as a modus operandi, pretending to seek romantic partners. Once a potential victim was identified, the criminals would initiate contact and escalate their deception by sending explicit photos.

Upon successfully entrapping the victim emotionally, the syndicate members would then request a significant sum of money.

“Subsequently, the victims were coerced into opening online store accounts through the link http:sop66hccgolf.com,” explained Djuhandhani.

“The perpetrators convinced the victims to make an initial deposit of IDR 20 million (approximately US$1,280) to activate the online store accounts.”

Further investigations revealed that the syndicate had successfully targeted hundreds of foreign nationals, including one Indonesian citizen. The financial losses incurred by the victims ranged from tens of millions to hundreds of millions of Indonesian Rupiah.

Director Djuhandhani highlighted the scale of the syndicate’s illicit gains, indicating that they could amass profits of IDR 40-50 billion monthly (approximately US$2.5-3.2 million).

The syndicate operated using cryptocurrency for financial transactions, and each member received a monthly payment of approximately IDR 6 million (approximately US$384), paid in cash.

The suspects are now facing charges under Article 45 paragraph (1) in conjunction with Article 27 paragraph (1) of the Information and Electronic Transactions Law, combined with Article 55 and Article 378 of the Criminal Code.

The penalties for these offences include a four-year prison term for fraud and a six-year sentence for offences related to information technology.

In August last year, another significant law enforcement operation led to the apprehension of 83 Chinese men and 5 women in Indonesia.

They were charged with orchestrating an online love scam syndicate that specifically targeted Chinese victims, including public officials. The modus operandi involved blackmailing victims with explicit videos acquired during video calls.

Acting on intelligence provided by their Chinese counterparts, Indonesian authorities uncovered a disconcerting pattern: the syndicate had shifted its operations to Indonesia and other Southeast Asian countries following China’s crackdown on similar networks.

In 2019, police arrested 85 Chinese nationals and six Indonesians over an online scam that tricked victims out of millions of dollars.

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