Ten men and two women were arrested by police over 26 scams in which they cheated about HK$1.8 million out of sellers on trading platforms and social media with cheques that could not be deposited into bank accounts.
The suspects, aged 19 to 70, were arrested for obtaining property by deception during police’s Operation Tunnellight from Tuesday to Thursday (Apr 18-20).
Police said the scams occurred from last December to March as the syndicate bought luxury items such as alcohol, smartphones, handbags, and wristwatches listed by sellers on the trading platform Carousell or social media Facebook
The fraudsters usually told the sellers they couldn’t attend the transaction in person some 15 minutes before, but a family member or friend would take their place and show up.
At the same time, the fraudsters would deposit an invalid cheque into the seller’s bank account to lure them into believing their deal was done. The sellers finally reported to the police after they found the cheque was fake or wouldn't clear into the bank account.
In some cases, fraudsters would even claim they had wired more money than agreed to the seller’s bank account and ask the seller to refund them by showing a falsified deposit slip.
The fraudsters had different roles, like contacting the victims on online platforms, showing up in person for the transactions, or providing a checking account.
During the operation, a significant number of phone cards and checkbooks were also seized.
Police remind the public that receiving a deposit slip and seeing an increase in money in their account doesn’t indicate that money has been transferred to their account. Citizens should confirm they have been paid by checking the cash balance.
Citizens are encouraged to use Scameter – the police’s one-stop scam and pitfall search engine – to check suspicious buyers' or sellers' phone numbers and social media accounts. They can also call the Anti-Scam Helpline at 18222.