Fraudsters recruit youngsters for loan sting
Two men and three women have been arrested for allegedly coaxing seven youngsters, mostly students, to borrow nearly HK$250,000 from financial companies on their behalf.
The syndicate disguised itself as a services company and recruited the victims to work as 'undercover customers' to check on the service quality of financial companies.
Police said victims were told to use their personal particulars to apply for personal loans of at least HK$15,000. One victim managed to borrow HK$80,000 from three financial firms.
The young people were ordered to hand over the money.
'They were promised HK$150 to HK$800 for each successful local application,' the officer said. 'But none of them received the payments.'
Police raided several locations in the New Territories on Sunday and Monday and arrested the five. They also seized computers, mobile phones, bank records and cash.
The suspects, who are jobless, include a 21-year-old woman mastermind. They were still being held for questioning last night.
Superintendent Chiu Sau-mee, of the Commercial Crime Bureau, said the young people, who believed the loans were being repaid by the fake company, realised they had been cheated when they received demands to settle the loans and could not contact the fraudsters.
Describing it as a new scam, she said: 'The syndicate is believed to have been in action since January.'
Chiu said officers were still investigating whether more young victims might be involved.
Police said the syndicate looked for 'customers' through internet discussion forums by asking interested parties to contact them over the phone. Job-seekers were told they could work full-time or part-time.
The job interviews took place in the street and the victims signed fake employment contracts. 'Fraudsters contacted them with their mobile phones and they kept changing their contact numbers frequently to avoid detection,' an officer said.
The bureau's technology crime division began investigating the syndicate two weeks ago.
The number of cases of internet deceptions increased to 211 in the first three months of this year, up from 146 in the same period of last year. There were 623 reports of internet deceptions in the whole of last year, compared with 402 in 2009.