Girls and gold 'scammers' busted

Top News | Jane Cheung 13 Jul 2018

At least two allegedly fraudulent investment firms that used pretty women to lure male customers to buy London Gold have been raided by police.

Sixty-four people - most of them men - told police they had been cheated out of HK$26 million following the arrest of 10 women and 21 men.

Police said one of the victims, a mainlander with a two-way permit, was lured into investing HK$1.8 million in London Gold by a woman on WeChat who said she was the manager.

He lost his entire investment in less than a month.

To take action against the people behind the scam and warn others not to fall for it, photos of women accused of selling London Gold have been published on Facebook pages.

On Wednesday, a joint police operation was launched in which 300 officers from crime, technology crime and tactical units searched Glory Sky Group's headquarters in North Point and Noble Holdings Group's office in Wan Chai.

Commercial Crime Bureau chief superintendent Anthony Tsang Ching-fo said the suspects are aged between 18 and 53, and some have links with triads.

Three of the men apprehended are believed to be masterminds and hold senior management positions in the companies.

Tsang said police seized HK$2.5 million in cash and froze HK$3.7 million in the companies' bank accounts.

Officers also impounded four luxury cars worth HK$6.3 million and took control of eight properties - six residential flats and two parking spaces - worth HK$52 million, he said.

"In one of the companies, we found a knife and three expandable batons, and we suspect some of these items have been used to threaten victims," he said.

Tsang said police also seized 200 electronic devices, including computers and servers.

"I'd like to highlight that officers did not find a dealing room at one of the companies, meaning it does not do investment work at all," he said.

He also said among the victims were 11 Hong Kong residents, nine mainlanders and 13 people from other countries. They lost a total of HK$19 million.

"Since we set up a hotline on Wednesday, 31 other victims have contacted us, involving HK$7 million. I believe more victims will report to us in the future," he said.

Chief Inspector Marina Yin Hiu-yu said the companies were subsidiaries of two financial groups.

She said the companies hired young and pretty women, who called themselves successful managers of London Gold or investment managers, and approached victims through WeChat.

They posted pictures to flaunt their wealth that included stacks of cash and luxury cars, and claimed that the scheme would make investors rich.

Yin said after some time, the managers told victims their investment had flopped and that they lost all their money.

"When the company received too many complaints, it established a new subsidiary using a different name and continued to defraud using similar tactics," she said.

Yin revealed that the female managers made false statements when selling London Gold. They claimed the investment was low-risk and promised a high return.

In fact, they used the investment on high-leverage products or made frequent transactions that created huge service charges and drained the amount from the victims' accounts, she said.

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