Sex, cash scam on woman earns Taoist 'master' nearly 5 years' jail
A former People's Liberation Army officer has been jailed for 56 months for posing as a Taoist master to swindle a woman out of HK$1.55 million and lure her into having sex.
The sentence was passed on Deng Qianxiang, 43, after the District Court was told the 47-year-old woman now suffered from severe depression and post-traumatic stress disorder and had suicidal thoughts.
The court heard the woman was one of 30 suspected victims of a syndicate that staged Taoist rituals to get money and sex.
Deng, a mainland resident holding a two-way permit to visit Hong Kong, pleaded guilty to one charge of conspiracy to defraud the woman with two other men, who are still being sought by police, between September 2008 and May 2009.
The court heard the woman had been duped into believing she would receive a cash gift of HK$130 million from heaven if she followed the instructions of a purported Taoist master that included having sex with his two disciples nine times in a year.
Judge Stanley Chan Kwong-chi ordered Deng to stand in the dock to hear the victim impact report, which said she wept every day over being cheated by someone she trusted and that being lured into sex had left her with 'a deep and long-lasting scar'. The court heard one of the accomplices had known the woman for 20 years and had introduced her to Deng.
The psychologist who interviewed her said the victim was nervous and fidgeting even before the interview began. Her self-image was low, she regarded herself as useless and felt ashamed for what she had done. A clerk on a low salary, she was now deeply in debt, the court heard.
Deng was introduced to the woman in December 2008 by a long-time acquaintance calling himself Master Liu, the court heard.
He performed a ritual with a piece of paper bearing the words: 'Born with wisdom, it is time to become rich, travel around the world.'
To receive the riches she had to follow rituals that Liu, one of the two still at large, often organised for her and for which she had to pay. She was told that the sex would help her to accumulate her spiritual energy. To boost this energy, she was told to pay HK$1.55 million to cover costs including festive prayers, buying robes for 108 Thai monks and building altars in Thailand and the mainland.
In sentencing, Chan said the woman's greed, superstition and innocence had made her vulnerable. Deng and his accomplices had 'successfully packaged their deceitful tactics into rituals for making prayers for wealth', he said. They had also used 'sweet words' to talk the woman into the scam. The judge quoted a Zen saying, which roughly translates as 'water can never come back after it flows away, and yellow leaves cannot flourish or become dry'.
He said Deng's actions had been a serious breach of the victim's trust and were aggravated by the fact he had crossed the border to carry them out. The incident had caused suffering not only to the victim but also to her family, from whom she had isolated herself after realising she had been cheated.
Chan hoped the case would serve as a reminder to superstitious people, who should be wary about any monetary or sexual demands and should discuss them with family and friends.