E-mail scam leaves trio HK$6.6m poorer
Three victims lost more than HK$6.6 million after falling for an e-mail scam that promised them a financial windfall, a court heard yesterday.
District Court Deputy Judge Adriana Tse sentenced two young Indian men to 40 months in jail after they admitted taking part in handling the proceeds of the deception by opening two bank accounts in Hong Kong.
The court was told that HK$2.7 million remained in the accounts, while the two defendants had already gotten rid of HK$3.9 million.
Cousins Jain Nikhil and Jain Aman Kumar, both 20, pleaded guilty to two counts of conspiracy to deal with property known or believed to be the proceeds of an indictable offence, and two counts of using false passports, presented to the Bank of Communications to open the accounts.
Prosecutor Vivien Chan Man-wai said Morton Scheinberg, 60, an American doctor working in Brazil, and Marie-Joele Majoie, 61, a French businesswoman working on the mainland, were separately contacted by strangers via e-mail last year and defrauded of millions.
They were told that they would receive huge inheritances from dead overseas relatives, Ms Chan said, adding that various legal fees had to be paid before they collected the money.
Between December and March this year, they remitted a total of more than HK$6 million to a Bank of Communications account in Hong Kong, opened by Jian Nikhil in September last year.
A third victim, US resident Zhang Ming-jie, 50, was told that if he helped to transfer millions of US dollars out of Canada, he would receive 20 per cent of the total.
The court was told that Mr Zhang had deposited more than HK$100,000 as 'tax payments' into the two Hong Kong accounts opened by the defendants.
None of the victims received any of the money they were promised.
In mitigation, defence barrister James McGowan said the defendants had learned a painful lesson since their arrest in March.
He described their behaviour as 'a mixture of immaturity motivated by greed'.
Police warned the public yesterday not to respond to e-mails offering them large sums of money that sounded 'too good to be true' or urging them to set up bank accounts into which to place cash.