Sad housewife gets 4 years for $30,000 spree

PUBLISHED : Friday, 19 July, 1996, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 19 July, 1996, 12:00am

A depressed housewife who went on a $30,000 spending spree ended up with a four-year prison term.

The 49-year-old unemployed woman was driven to despair by the stress of caring for her pregnant daughter and her enfeebled 82-year-old mother.

She could no longer make ends meet and was forced to borrow from loansharks, the District Court heard.

But Wong Yuet-ngor had no way of repaying the loans, so she was press-ganged by the loansharks into becoming a thief.

A mysterious woman called Sze Ngai-mui gave Wong fake credit cards and told her she would get half the face value of the goods she purchased, prosecutor Joseph Yau said.

On New Year's Day this year, Wong went into a Tsim Sha Tsui department store and used a bogus Diners Club card to buy a $2,360 pen. Her next stop was a food store where she bought $7,265 of preserved scallops, bird's nest and Chinese medicine.

Wong continued her spending spree over the next four days. She used a gold Mastercard to load up on a $4,000 Prada handbag, designer clothes, jewellery, gold and luxury pens, the court heard.

But the shopping extravaganza came to an end when staff at a jewellery store realised the Mastercard she used was a fake.

Wong, feigning insult, left the store in a huff. The shop assistants followed her to a nearby roast goose restaurant where police seized her.

'She was not the main culprit in this,' defence lawyer Bernadette Woo said. 'She is not shirking her responsibilities. She has pleaded guilty and is now assisting the police to find the people behind this.' Ms Woo said her client had $50,000 in cash to pay back the victims of her crimes.

But Deputy Judge Ernest Lin Kam-hung said Wong not only hurt her victims, but also 'damaged the image and reputation' of Hong Kong.

'In Hong Kong millions of dollars are lost each year because of false credit cards,' Judge Lin said.

'This continues to hurt Hong Kong's commercial reputation. A trader who accepts credit cards should not be put at risk by crimes like this.'