Asia is full of opportunities not just for corporations but for criminals too, says Interpol president Khoo Boon Hui.
Hui also called the region "a fertile investment ground for illegal activities," as he noted "emerging major crime challenges" against law enforcers.
In his opening remarks at the 21st Interpol Asian Regional Conference in Jordan, Khoo also emphasized the need for cooperation across borders. Criminals in Asia now operate scams that cross jurisdictional lines and involve "suspects operating in another country and targeting victims internationally, using the Internet and other communications means as instruments for crime," he said.
Among the scams he cited involved a crime ring based in the Philippines. The scammers, who have since been arrested by Philippine authorities, pretended to be law enforcers or public prosecutors to steal money from people in China and Taiwan.
"They told the victims that their bank accounts were being used for money laundering and terrorist financing. They pressured the victims to transfer their funds to a 'safe account' provided by the syndicate. Through this, the syndicate raked in around 20 million pesos per day," he said.
The Bureau of Immigration has deported 279 Taiwanese caught for online fraud. According to reports, 86 Chinese and a New Zealander were also arrested in simultaneous raids on online scammers last month.
In April, Malaysian authorities arrested 83 suspects involved in a similar scam. "Their modus operandi included impersonating authorities as well as faking credit card and bank charges," Khoo said.
Because of the presence of online fraud rings that target victims from other countries, Khoo said Asian law enforcement agencies need more resources, knowledge and stronger partnerships.
"The borderless and global nature of the Internet requires us to adopt a pro‐active, innovative and global approach against cybercrime," he said.
Interpol, an international police organization with 190 member countries, plans to put up an Interpol Global Complex for Innovation, which is expected to start operating by 2014. It will also set up the Interpol Digital Crime Centre within the complex. The IDCC will act as a global hub for curbing cybercrime and will focus on providing support for cybercrime investigators, on research and innovation, and on cyber security.
Taiwan on Saturday protested to the Philippines for sending naval ships to disputed South China Sea islands in the latest diplomatic spat between the two governments.