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Thursday, Oct 28, 2021

Eight helpers among 14 arrested in romance scams

Eight helpers among 14 arrested in romance scams

Police busted 30 romance scams and arrested 14 people, including members of a non-Chinese syndicate and eight domestic helpers who lent their bank accounts to the syndicate.
Ten members of the organization aged from 30 to 53, in which eight were domestic helper, were arrested for their possession of stooge bank accounts.

Among the arrested also saw four Nigerian men, aged from 35 to 42. One was the mastermind, holding a recognizance form. The other three were the core members of the crime organization, holding HK identity cards.

They were arrested on June 16 and 17 in Tai Kok Tsui, Causeway Bay and Tsim Sha Tsui. Officers also confiscated a number of smartphones, computers, four credit cards and cash worth over HK$1.5 million.

The Commercial Crime Bureau of police has initiated investigations against online fraud and money laundering since this March. Officers soon found and targeted a crime organization controlled by non-Chinese people.

The organization controlled foreign domestic helpers to open local bank accounts, which were used to transfer and launder crime profit.

At least 21 stooge bank accounts were used to launder crime profit worth over HK$12 million between last December and this June, according to the bureau.

Over 30 fraud cases related to online dating that took place between January 2020 and June 2021 were involved. The cases reported 30 victims, including two men and 28 women aged between 22 and 64. They were conned of HK$14,000 to HK$2.4 million.

Police believed the crime organization had been dissolved. It also advised citizens to stay alert when making friend online and the public should not transfer money to suspicious bank accounts.

Officers stressed that a person could be convicted of money laundering if one uses a bank account or provide an account to others for illegal purposes. The maximum penalty carries a 14-year imprisonment and a HK$5 million fine.
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