Hongkong Post employee conspired with two others to defraud post office

More than 3,000 pieces of mail, whose value was inflated, were sent out and later reported to be lost to gain compensation of about HK$450,000

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 26 October, 2016, 4:53pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 26 October, 2016, 8:36pm

A customer service officer at Hongkong Post conspired with two former schoolmates to swindle the postal service supplier out of almost half a million dollars by inflating the values of the mail they sent out and, subsequently, claiming that it had gone missing, a court heard on Wednesday.

Staff member Chan Ka-yau and his two co-accused, Cho Shek-hang and Ng Chun-yin, had sent 3,039 pieces of mail – said to have contained Parker pens valued at about HK$460 each – to several postal destinations, including less common ones such as Pakistan, India, Kuwait and the Philippines, between 2012 and last year.

But in fact, the mail contained ballpoint pens costing far less than the claimed value, prosecutors said at the District Court.

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The three then informed the post office that the mail was lost, and were granted HK$450,000 in compensation for 1,531 pieces of mail. The office normally compensates senders of lost mail by awarding a maximum sum of HK$320 for each claim.

Chan, 31 – whom judge Stanley Chan Kwong-chi described as acting as the “eyes and ears” for his co-accused – pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud with Cho, 31, and Ng, 33.

The judge said there was a breach of trust on Chan’s part, as he acted as the leader of the plot.

“He used his position in the post office to relentlessly abuse the grey area,” the judge said, adding that it was even worse than cases involving a large sum of funds.

The court heard that over the course of three years, Chan worked for the mail tracing office, responsible for processing inquiries for lost mail and, if the claims were found to be substantiated, advising the post office to issue compensation.

The mail was also sent to the United Kingdom and Italy between 2012 and last year by Cho and Ng, with Chan’s office being asked to deal with lots of inquiries from a “Mr Cho”, “Mr Ng” , or “Mr Choi”. The mail was sent through a mailbox in Sha Tin, whose key was kept by Chan.

The post office eventually found the claims for 1,531 items valid, and paid Ng and Cho HK$451,673.

Between 2014 and last year, Chan even met the pair to discuss how to overcome new policies devised by the post office regarding the compensation scheme, the court heard.

In mitigation, defence counsel Albert Luk Wai-hung invited the judge to consider that Chan went through a “heart-wrenching” breakup with his girlfriend of more than 10 years as the offence occurred. Chan’s grandmother had also died at that time.

But the judge refused to accept Chan’s wrongdoing as being a result of impulsiveness.

“One word to describe it: money,” he said.

Judge Chan said he would jail the three when he is scheduled to sentence them on Friday.