Hong Kong police arrest 210 people over swindling residents out of HK$330 million

Sung said during the crackdown that ended on Tuesday, officers thwarted the transfer of HK$3.17 million in crime proceeds generated from deception.

“The 210 arrestees were linked to 152 reports of deception with financial losses reaching HK$330 million,” she said.

A source familiar with the case said the suspects, aged 15 and 18, included 208 holders of stooge accounts.

Police have confiscated bank cards, mobile phones and documents. Photo: Handout

According to police, stooge account holders loan or sell their bank accounts to fraud syndicates to collect scammed money and launder crime proceeds in exchange for monetary rewards.

The insider said that among the suspects were two boys and one girl, aged either 15 or 16, who included a stooge account holder or helped criminals collect scammed money from victims.

“Investigations revealed that criminal syndicates approached youngsters through online games and dating apps, and took advantage of their desires for quick pocket money to lure them into handling crime proceeds with so-called generous rewards ranging from HK$1,000 to 2,000,” Sung said.

The chief inspector reminded the public that regardless of age, providing bank accounts for others to handle illegal funds was a criminal offence.

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She urged parents to be more vigilant and teach their children about safeguarding personal information and bank account details to avoid being exploited by criminals.

According to police, the victims in the 152 cases included a retiree who was duped out of HK$32 million after being tricked into setting up an account in a sham trading platform to invest in cryptocurrency.

Inspector Lee Shing-yan of the same unit said most of the victims were targeted by fraudsters posing as investment experts.

“They were tricked into thinking that they had found a gold mine because their accounts [with the bogus trading platforms] showed continuous growth in their returns. They then kept investing more money,” Lee said.

She said that in fact, it was a trap set by scammers who controlled fake information, including the price of digital coins and positive returns, displayed on bogus trading platforms.

Police have said they raided 151 locations during the operation. Photo: Handout

Other types of deception included online employment fraud with one of the victims losing HK$3.75 million after being lured into carrying out fake promotions to earn commission.

Sung said the victim introduced so-called online promotion work, also known as click farming, to friends who were also conned.

Money laundering or fraud is punishable by up to 14 years in jail, according to the force.

The city recorded a 42.6 per cent increase in all types of deception to 39,824 reports last year from 27,923 in 2022.

The amount lost went up by 89 per cent to HK$9.1 billion in 2023 from the HK$4.8 billion recorded the year before.

Reports of online technology crimes accounted for 85 per cent of all deception cases last year. Such crimes included online investment fraud, love scams, email fraud, e-shopping swindles and employment scams.


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