ZAGREB, January 20, 2018 – Croatian police have uncovered two “call centres” for computer fraud in the wider Zagreb area and arrested four persons, two Croatian and two Chinese nationals, on suspicion that they have engaged in human trafficking since last September, held at least 59 Chinese nationals in confinement and used them for computer fraud targeting their compatriots.
A 48-year-old Croatian national is suspected of renting two houses in the wider Zagreb area which served as makeshift call centres. The houses, one measuring 800 square metres and the other 400 square metes, were equipped with internet connections and electronic equipment, but had only minimum living conditions. The other, 51-year-old suspect from Zagreb illegally transported victims of human trafficking from Slovenia and put them in the two houses, assistant chief of police Ante Gudelj told a press conference on Saturday.
The victims were recruited from China with the promise that they would be able to earn enough money quickly and legally to pay off their debts. They were first brought to Slovenia and from there to Croatia. In the call centres they were monitored by the two Chinese suspects, one 27 years old and the other 38 years old.
The suspects took away the victims’ documents, denying them freedom of movement and communication and forcing them to commit computer fraud against Chinese citizens.
After gathering sufficient incriminating evidence, the police simultaneously raided the two houses on Thursday and found ID documents taken from the victims, mobile phones, bank cards and a large amount of money. Nineteen Chinese nationals were found in one house and 42 in the other.
Police footage shown at the press conference showed two workstations separated by cardboard boxes and mattresses on the floor on which the victims slept. The police declined to reveal the locations of the two houses.
The victims have been provided with accommodation and are being interviewed by the police.
The police said that the perpetrators had randomly called people in China and deceived them by identifying themselves as police or judicial officials.
The police noted that they had good cooperation with the Chinese and Slovenian police and with the Croatian Red Cross which has provided appropriate assistance to the victims. The police said that the investigation was continuing.