Man in custody over new extortion attempt on Transformers crew in To Kwa Wan
A suspected triad member was in police custody last night after being arrested on suspicion of attempting to extort money from the crew of the fourth Transformers movie in To Kwa Wan.
It was the second attempt in five days to blackmail the Paramount Pictures crew during filming in Hong Kong. The incident was "ridiculous" and "more unusual than getting a jackpot", said Hong Kong Directors Guild president Derek Yee Tung-sing.
Police are looking for three other racketeers in connection with the latest case, which happened on the roof of a residential block in To Kwa Wan Road at about 2.30pm on Tuesday.
According to police, the four men allegedly approached and demanded money from the crew, who were checking the site at the time of the incident. The crew immediately called police.
Officers arrested a 35-year-old Hong Kong man but the other three men escaped. A police source said the man was a suspected triad member.
Last night the alleged racketeer was still being detained in Kowloon City police station but had not been charged.
On Thursday last week, two brothers were arrested after demanding HK$100,000 from the same film production team.
Brothers Mak Chi-shing, 27, and Mak Chi-hang, 28, appeared in Eastern Court on Friday charged with blackmail and assaulting a police officer.
The court heard that the pair, owners of Hang Fat Air Conditioner and Water Electrical Company, demanded HK$100,000 from stage manager Cheung Ngo-yeung. Police have maintained close contact with the Transformers crew and stepped up patrols at their filming locations around the city.
Yee, of the directors guild, said he hasn't heard of any blackmail cases in the past few years.
Decades ago people would try to get money by throwing objects from a height during filming, he recalled. But after an attack on an auxiliary police officer during the filming of an RTHK production the police made a series of arrests and snuffed out similar crimes.
"Transformers 4 could have attracted the attention due to its big scale," he said, adding that he doesn't believe it points to an increased trend of such crimes.