Chinese scammer caught at Larnaca airport

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Cyprus police have arrested a Chinese man wanted for multimillion-euro financial fraud in his home country while he was attempting to leave the island at Larnaca Airport.

Police announced the 49-year-old man is allegedly related to a case of fraud and embezzlement through loans amounting to 5.6 billion Chinese Yuan (CNY), equivalent to more than €760,000,000.

The man has been wanted since July 2020, with an international arrest warrant issued against him.

He was arrested shortly before 9:30 pm on Sunday when trying to depart from Larnaca airport.

Police officers at passport control had seen an arrest warrant pending against his name, and he was taken into custody after the Republic issued a temporary warrant.

A judicial process for his extradition to China is expected to be launched.

The Larnaca Criminal Investigation Department is carrying out further investigations.

Financial schemes have a long history of thriving in China, where decades of runaway economic growth have created enormous personal wealth and a get-rich-quick mindset among the public.

Fraudsters have also profited from a lack of regulation and a state-imposed ceiling on deposit rates, making it easier for them to convince clients keen to get a higher return on their hard-earned savings.

Beijing has made a big push to put scammers behind bars, and annual arrests have surged fivefold over the past three years.

Still, fraudsters have emerged unscathed through operating abroad or hiding their identity with better technology.