PUTRAJAYA: Almost 700 people were arrested in Malaysia when authorities raided a building and busted the largest online scam syndicate believed to be run by Chinese nationals in the country.
Some suspects attacked security officials while others fled as a huge team from the immigration department launched a dramatic early morning raid on Wednesday (Nov 20) on the sixth-storey premises in Cyberjaya, south of the capital Kuala Lumpur.
Earlier reports by state news agency Bernama said nearly a thousand people were arrested.
Photos from Wednesday's raid showed people standing behind rows of desks mounted with computers, hands held behind their heads, while others sat huddled together on the floor.
Videos circulating online purportedly showed dozens of people scattering and fleeing from the premises. One man was seen being detained and tackled to the ground.
VICTIMS IN CHINA TARGETED
Officials seized more than 8,000 phones and almost 1,000 computers used to run the scam, which targeted victims in China by offering fast profits in return for investments.
Those captured - 603 men and 77 women - had entered Malaysia on a social visit pass intended for tourists or visiting friends, but not for work, said immigration chief Khairul Dzaimee Daud.
About 100 to 120 suspects managed to escape from the building, and officials said they are trying to track them down.
Acting on a public tip-off, he said officials conducted surveillance on the building for almost a month before the raid.
The syndicate is believed to have been operating for the last six months. The office that was raided was rented at RM360,000 (US$86,000) a month, said immigration officials.
The suspects will be remanded for 14 days. They are expected to face charges including violating social visit pass regulations, entering and residing in Malaysia without a valid visa and overstaying.
The Chinese embassy has been informed of the arrests, officials said.