Ten nabbed over $24m scam

Local | Erin Chan 15 Jan 2021

Ten people have been arrested for allegedly conning 80 investors out of HK$24 million after luring them to invest in a Malaysian resort.

The 10 suspects - one man and nine women aged between 27 and 64 - were arrested for conspiracy to defraud and money laundering on Wednesday.

They have been released on bail pending investigation and have to report to the police in mid-March.

Police said some of the scammers acted as "persuaders," while others used their personal bank accounts to collect victims' payments.

Commercial Crime Bureau superintendent Lee Mo-yin said 15 men and 65 women aged between 33 and 84, including salespeople, security guards, housewives and retirees, had lost up to HK$2 million each.

She said the victims attended seminars held by two local investment companies in a Tsim Sha Tsui commercial building between January 2017 and May 2019, during which they were persuaded to invest in a Malaysian resort under "zero risk" and "guaranteed returns" terms.

"The victims were told that as long as they invested in the resort, they would be guaranteed returns amounting to several times of their principal within one or two years," she said.

"They then made payments via cash or cash deposits at banks, during which they were not told to sign any documents or agreements regarding their investment."

Reports about the scam came to light when the victims lost contact with staffers of the two investment companies in May 2019, Lee said.

She added that police seized a pile of documents and phones during the Wednesday operation and did not rule out further arrests.

The police also appealed to citizens to gain a thorough understanding of the nature and risks of the investment products they lay eyes on.

"If citizens are about to sign agreements, authorization letters or contracts per their investments, they should have a grasp of the terms and think twice before acting If in doubt, citizens can call the anti-scam helpline at 18222."

Riding on the recent emigration trend, purchasing overseas properties became popular last year, but related complaints also increased.

The Estate Agents Authority received 66 complaints about purchasing overseas properties in the first 11 months of last year.


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