Two fraudsters posing as consumers tricked people into selling luxury watches via online auction platforms using cheques that bounced, police said on Tuesday.
Police revealed the ploy after learning that five people had been cheated out of five watches worth a total of HK$250,000.
In a crackdown against internet shopping fraud, police arrested a 16-year-old schoolgirl and a 30-year-old man in connection with two of the five cases.
On Tuesday morning, the man, wearing a black hood to conceal his face, was escorted back to his home in Sha Tin where officers seized bank cards, a computer and mobile phones.
None of the five watches was recovered in the operation.
Senior Inspector Chiew Tsi-huen of New Territories North regional crime unit said fraudsters pretending to be buyers targeted sellers of luxury watches on internet auction sites. After agreeing on a price online, a face-to-face transaction would be arranged, he said.
“At the face-to-face meeting, the sellers were told the money had been deposited into their bank accounts,” he said. “Once the sellers had checked the account balance using an ATM or e-banking service and saw the payment recorded, they handed over their watches.”
The sellers only discovered the fraud after the cheques deposited by the buyers bounced, said Chiew.
“Up to now, there is no evidence to suggest the two suspects work together or are controlled by the same syndicate,” he said.
Describing the ploy as rare, the senior inspector urged internet users to be on alert while making online purchases and selling items on the internet.
Police are looking for the schoolgirl’s accomplice.
The two suspects were among eight suspected internet fraudsters – four men and four women, aged 16 to 49 – arrested on Monday and Tuesday as part of a two-day operation against online crime that involved a total of 34 victims.
According to police, the victims included housewives and unemployed people with losses totalling HK$460,000.
Chiew said the other six suspects were accused of posing as sellers who tricked online consumers into buying concert tickets and electronic products through online shopping platforms and auction sites.
He said the buyers sought help from the police after the goods were not delivered to them and their attempts to contact the sellers failed.
Police said all suspects were likely to be released on bail as officers needed more time to collect evidence.