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Tuesday, Jun 06, 2023

Eleven people arrested for laundering HK$119m of crime proceeds from mainland scams

Eleven people were arrested for money laundering and conspiracy to defraud in connection to some 680 telephone scams on the mainland with crime proceeds totaling more than HK$119 million.
Among the arrestees, nine were members of a crime syndicate. They were aged 23 to 36, and were reportedly technicians, salespeople, and decoration workers. The other two were employees of two jewelry shops in the New Territories.

The case was busted by police’s financial intelligence and investigation bureau (FIIB) with the assistance of China’s National Anti-Fraud Center.

Police said they first received intelligence from the mainland agency in February that debit cards issued on the mainland – containing money generated from telephone scams – were used for shopping in Hong Kong. The investigation was then handed over to the FIIB.

Further investigations revealed that the syndicate bought some 90 mainland bank accounts as stooge accounts to handle about HK$119 million of crime proceeds cheated from mainland victims.

The members were then given the debit cards issued through mainland bank accounts to do shopping in Hong Kong, with some others on lookout during their spending spree.

After intelligence analysis, police ambushed and arrested the nine members on Tuesday when they were spending some HK$3 million on 11 luxurious wristwatches throughout the city.

Officers later arrested two jewelry store employees, aged 46 and 49, the next day (Mar 29), as they believed the two knew about the crime proceeds when handling the transactions by members of the syndicate.

During the operation, police seized 11 luxurious wristwatches, HK$1.73 million of cash, a stash of gold accessories, 2.6 kg of gold bars, 30 debit cards, 18 phones.

The nine members have been charged with conspiracy to defraud already. The other two jewelry store employees were released on bail, pending further investigations.

Police said the operation is ongoing and they may make more arrests.
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