Kathmandu: Three years after arresting 122 Chinese nationals from different parts of Kathmandu for their suspicious activities, police on Tuesday nabbed nine China nationals for their alleged involvement in online fraud. Police also arrested 10 Nepalis who were allegedly helping them in the business, The Kathmandu Post reported.

Police said this time they have 'strong evidence' to file an online fraud case. "Earlier, the police would be short of evidence as they would be found to be running a call centre or doing some other legitimate activities," said Senior Superintendent of Police Manoj KC, who is also the in-charge at the Valley Crime Investigation Office, Minbhawan, adding, "But this time we have enough evidence."

This time, the arrested China nationals staged a protest on the premises of the Kathmandu Valley Crime Investigation Office in Minbhawan, where police held a press conference on Wednesday. In protest, they fell to the ground with their handcuffs and chanted slogans against police officers in the Chinese language. They even misbehaved with journalists who were there to report on the case, The Kathmandu Post reported.

KC said 19 people were arrested from three different places in Kathmandu--Budhanilkantha, Golfutar and Chandol--after a victim complained to the office at the end of February.

"They were found duping Nepalis of money from their illegal offices in the Valley," KC said.

"Through these offices, they ran online classes called 'Operation Teacher' over Telegram," he added.

Introduced in 2013, Telegram is a messaging app that provides access to secure chats from multiple devices across various platforms, The Kathmandu Post reported.

The crime office in-charge said the operators would make various tempting offers to general people after initially connecting over WhatsApp and then making them join online classes via Telegram.

According to the Crime Investigation Office, police started its multi-layered operation after one of the victims came to the office in Minbhawan complaining of being duped by the Chinese racket last month, The Kathmandu Post reported.

Police said the victim lost Rs4.7 million in the business whereby the Chinese would send messages via WhatsApp with an offer of investment in an online business from where one was liable to get over 30 per cent net profit.

"Initially the person was made to invest USD 30. A day after, they deposited more money into his account, showing 30 per cent profit," KC said.

"Through online shopping, they would increase their investment along with given profit, and when customers reached a tipping point, one of the operators would come in the disguise of a 'law enforcement officer' who is tracking the illegal business. All their transactions would then be cancelled. That is how people lost their money. Initial investigation suggests the Chinese did over Rs165 million worth of business in the past 10 months."We have also identified 15 other victims who were duped by the Chinese," said KC, The Kathmandu Post reported.

Those arrested were: Huang Huanrono, 33; Xu Fuxiang, 36; Lan Zhengwei, 34; Xie Guoyi,40; Xie Shuang DI, 29; Gao Ming,31; Ehou Ping Ving,31; Chen Dur Lin, 30 and Li Jian Hong, 39.

They were apprehended from Madhavkhola of Budhanilkantha Municipality, Chaplai and Chondole of Kathmandu Metropolitan City. They were found to be duping people from their leased houses in the three places.

Meanwhile, the 10 Nepalis citizens, five male and five female, who have also been arrested, would be deployed in the marketing of the business. The police investigation shows that the Chinese used a NIC Asia bank account to run the business owned by Buddhiraj Shrestha, Indra Tamang, Rajkumar Lama and Pryash Bhandari.

Arjun Shrestha, whom the Chinese had given a scooter, would collect money from the account holders and hand it over to the Chinese agent. Each time he did so, he would get Rs10,000, according to police, The Kathmandu Post reported.

Similarly, Nepali girls were deployed to teach people how to invest money and lure gullible citizens into fraudulent businesses over Telegram's virtual class.

Police have confiscated 12 laptops, computers, sim cards, passports and Rs400,000 in cash.

This is not the first case of its kind. Police data show the number of Chinese nationals committing crimes in Nepal has been increasing markedly in recent years, The Kathmandu Post reported.

On February 25, the Central Investigation Bureau (CIB), in coordination with the Metropolitan Police Range, Lalitpur, arrested Chinese national Yang Limping, 49, from Bungamati. Yang, a permanent resident of Xiamen in China's Fujian province, was arrested on the charge of holding three girls aged 13, 14 and 17 hostages and sexually abusing them in his rented apartment at Bungamati in Lalitpur.

All three were rescued. Police also rescued four other minors whom Yang had kept at a Thamel-based hotel on the same day.

Similarly, on December 22, the Anti-Human Trafficking Bureau of the Nepal Police nabbed two Chinese agents--Chen Yang, 30, a permanent resident of Sichuan, China from Kathmandu's Thamel area, and Ruan Chaohong, 33, of Fujian, from the Tribhuvan International Airport.

They were arrested on the charge of trafficking three Nepali women to a Laos-based call centre involved in catfishing--swindling rich people online by befriending them using a fake identity. The victims said their job was to lure rich English-speaking people online. After escaping their Chinese employer in Laos, three Nepali women shared their harrowing stories with the Post.

Last year, police raided a call centre in Tinkune run jointly by a Chinese and an Indian citizen.

In January 2019, police apprehended 122 Chinese nationals from different parts of Kathmandu for their alleged involvement in suspicious activities, The Kathmandu Post reported.

In September of the same year, police arrested five Chinese nationals on the charge of hacking bank data and stealing millions of rupees from automated teller machines (ATMs) of various banks in Kathmandu.