Police smash Hong Kong credit card scam in citywide raids

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 12 September, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 12 September, 2013, 12:11pm

A Hong Kong-based syndicate which allegedly made fake credit cards and used them for shopping sprees has been broken up after two of its ringleaders and 11 members were arrested, police said yesterday.

The credit card racket had been in operation for about two years and could have raked in as much as HK$50 million, said Superintendent Lam Shu-wing of the Kowloon West regional crime unit.

More than 1,300 fake credit cards, some still being made, were seized from a flat in Eastern District. Police seized computers and equipment including a skimmer - a device to swipe and store numbers - and an embossing machine. About 300 grams of the drug Ice was also found.

The two alleged masterminds of the gang - a man and his girlfriend - were picked up in a police raid on the flat at about 2pm on Tuesday. Another 11 people were arrested in a series of raids across the city on Tuesday afternoon.

Goods worth more than HK$100,000, believed to have been bought with fake cards, were recovered from a storage centre in Kwun Tong. They included luxury leather shoes, watches, dried seafood, mooncake coupons and cosmetics.

Lam said the alleged ringleaders found credit card data and created the fake cards, then used middlemen to hire couriers.

"The couriers were paid 10 per cent of the value of the goods they bought with fake cards," he said.

Officers believe the goods purchased with fake cards were being sold on the mainland.

The superintendent said the credit card data was mainly from Europe and had probably been purchased by the syndicate.

The Kowloon West regional crime unit began the investigation in April after a tip-off.

The 13 suspects - eight men and five women - were being held on suspicion of possessing a false instrument and equipment for making a false instrument, and for trafficking in dangerous drugs. Last night they were being detained for questioning. No charges had been laid.

Police seized 1,099 fake credit cards in the first six months of this year. In 2012, 9,669 fake cards were seized.