Blackmail letters linked to Guangdong
Clifford Lo and Simpson Cheung
Blackmail letters sent to government officials containing fake photographs of them in compromising sexual positions probably came from the same source in Guangdong, police said yesterday.
The force has sought help from its mainland counterpart to track down the blackmailer after 50 Hong Kong officials received the letters threatening to expose secrets about their private lives and demanding payment of up to HK$500,000 each. So far, no victim has paid up.
Officials targeted reportedly included Secretary for Education Michael Suen Ming-yeung and Secretary for Food and Health Dr York Chow Yat-ngok.
Stephen Lo Wai-chung, the police director of crime and security, said the culprit used the same photographs but pasted the heads of different officials on them, adding most of the victims were male.
'We are conducting forensic tests on the photographs and actively contacting the mainland Public Security Bureau to trace the source of these photographs,' he said.
He added the letters referred to the same incident involving all 50 victims. 'It appeared to be quite impossible, but we have not drawn any conclusion yet,' Lo said.
Another police officer said most of the letters contained one edited photo each and the pictures were all fakes and badly put together.
'The headshot photos of the government officials concerned were just stuck on the pornographic pictures. It's just like the artwork of a kindergarten student,' said the officer who did not want to be named.
The letters all claimed to know secrets about the victims but did not give details, according to police.
The officer said the government officials involved included policy secretaries, administrative officers and executive officers.
'It's possible that the blackmailer got their names and addresses from the telephone directory of the government,' the officer said. 'The blackmailer is apparently fishing around and trying their luck.'
The government officials were each asked to pay HK$200,000 to HK$500,000, but the officer said the amounts demanded were not in accord to the ranking and pay scales of the officials.
The officer said at least two bank accounts were listed to collect money and police were trying to identify their owners.
No arrest has been made.