BEIJING (Reuters) - Seventy seven Chinese fraud suspects have been repatriated from Fiji, police said on Sunday, as China battles an explosion of scamming over the telephone that has cost victims billions of dollars.

A chartered China Southern Airlines plane carrying the suspects escorted by Chinese police landed in Changchun, capital of the northeastern province of Jilin, on Saturday, the Ministry of Public Security said on its official website.

The suspects had defrauded people of six million yuan ($900,000), the ministry said. It gave no further details.

Chinese authorities say criminal gangs based in Taiwan are behind many of the scams and they registered 590,000 cases in 2015. Mainland Chinese are defrauded of more than 10 billion yuan by Taiwanese through scams on the telephone every year, the official Xinhua news agency has reported.


Chinese state media has blamed weak penalties in Taiwan, and says Chinese-speaking fraudsters from Taiwan were increasingly setting up operations in East Africa or Southeast Asia.

Last week Indonesia sent 143 telecoms fraud suspects, including 22 Taiwan nationals, to two Chinese cities at Beijing's request, according to Taiwan's foreign ministry.

In July, Taiwan lodged a protest against Cambodia's decision to send suspects in a telecoms fraud scheme, including seven Taiwan nationals, to China for investigation.

(Reporting by Judy Hua and Benjamin Kang Lim; Editing by Louise Ireland)

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