Two more held over alleged slimming scam
Clifford Lo and Amy Nip
Two more people have been held in connection with an alleged slimming scam, bringing to 11 the total number of arrests.
Officers from the Kowloon West regional crime unit arrested the two employees of Royal Bodyperfect yesterday. All suspects have now been released on bail and told to report back next month.
A police officer said: 'The two women are employees of the slimming company. They were also arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud.'
The officer said an investigation was still continuing. 'We need more time to go through a large quantity of seized contracts and documents,' the officer said.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, police arrested the company's 55-year-old director and eight employees, including a therapist, shop managers and consultants. Eight were released on bail on Wednesday.
Police said it was suspected that unscrupulous sales tactics had been used to promote three slimming packages, involving 500 customers.
In one case a 26-year-old woman was forced to pay a HK$24,800 deposit for a slimming package when she applied for a job at Royal Bodyperfect in 2009. The victim, who was unemployed, was locked in a room and a staff member lured her into signing a contract.
Royal Bodyperfect had yet to reach out to any of the victims, said lawmaker Starry Lee Wai-king, who has received 10 complaints related to the company. The complainants, who were employed as 'spokeswomen,' had their deposits confiscated after failing to meet weight-reduction targets.
Royal Bodyperfect was reluctant to settle with complainants, Lee said. The company had refused to negotiate during the past year and all cases had not been settled, she said.
However, few victims involved in slimming spokesmen scams would dare take their cases to court, she said. Even if they did, their chances of winning were minimal unless the company was convicted of fraud.
'Some had taken their cases to the Small Claims Tribunal ... but I did not hear any positive feedback,' she said.
Although the police have taken action against Royal Bodyperfect, contractual agreements between clients and the company were still valid, said Eric Cheung Tat- ming, a University of Hong Kong law professor.
Unless criminal prosecutions found false claims had been made when contracts were signed, or the company could no longer provide slimming services, a police investigation alone would not help, he said.