Three arrests as more than 100 face losses over scams

Local | Erin Chan 26 Mar 2020

Many Hongkongers are still falling for online scams involving face masks despite the shortage having become noticeably less acute, with the latest case seeing 103 people cheated of more than HK$950,000.

Police said yesterday an arrest has been made of a male suspect who posted advertisements on social media between January 27 and February 7, claiming he had made-in-Japan masks for sale at the relatively cheap price of HK$50 per box.

A box of 50 masks can go for as much as HK$500 when the shortage during the current pandemic was particularly acute.

The suspect is said to have contacted those who had expressed interest, asking them to make cash deposits into his bank account before he would deliver.

"The suspect told victims that they would receive the masks by mid February . . . But after the victims paid the deposits, they did not receive the goods and the seller went missing," senior inspector Chan Man-ho said.

A 40-year-old, who is suspected to be the mastermind of a syndicate, was arrested for obtaining property by deception in Chai Wan on Tuesday.

The suspect was detained at Wan Chai police station as of late yesterday for questioning and has not been charged.

Chan said that most of the victims were middle-aged people, and the amounts involved in each case ranged between HK$550 and HK$186,000.

In another case, two arrests were also made yesterday morning on suspicions of cheating more than HK$15,000 out of 30 people wanting to buy masks.

Police said they received reports between February 13 and 18 that they did not receive the masks they ordered from the two suspects online after making down payments in cash via bank transfers.

Officers seized three mobile phones and a debit card.

A 24-year-old man, Chung, and a 22-year-old woman, Lai, were arrested in Sha Tin and Western.

Under the SAR's laws, obtaining property by deception is punishable by up to 14 years in prison.

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