TAIPEI (CNA) — The passports of 34 Taiwanese in the Republic of Armenia were seized by police recently during a massive probe into fraud activities in the country, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) said Wednesday.

Citing a report from Taiwan’s representative office in Russia, the ministry said that during an investigation into fraud offenses by Mandarin-speaking suspects, Armenian police earlier this month raided two homes and a hotel where Taiwanese nationals were staying.

The police seized the passports, mobile phones, and computers of the 34 Taiwanese, whom they have placed under surveillance, the MOFA said.

The Taiwanese suspects can travel around in Armenia freely but cannot leave the country because their passports have been seized, the MOFA said, adding that some of them called Taiwan’s representative office in Russia for help.

Citing Armenian police, the Taiwanese suspects said that Armenia has been hit large scale fraud recently, according to the MOFA.

After law enforcement officers discovered that some of the suspects were Mandarin speakers, the police decided to check on all ethnic Chinese in the country, including the 34 Taiwanese, the MOFA said, citing the suspects.

The MOFA said Taiwan’s representative to Russia David Wang was on his way to Armenia to deal with the matter since Taiwan has no liaison office in Armenia.

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