‘Cunning’ Hong Kong woman who raked in millions through fake flat sales found guilty of deception
Court told how she tricked numerous buyers into paying deposits, then returned bad cheques
A “cunning” unemployed woman who pocketed more than HK$2.7 million in deposits while pretending to sell her father’s two flats was found guilty of deception on Friday for compensating victims with bad cheques.
The District Court heard that Wong Siu-woon, 47, promised the Causeway Bay properties to numerous buyers at the same time and repeatedly demanded “deposits” while threatening to forfeit payments made by unsuspecting clients.
The bogus sales were exposed when Sham Yin-yee realised through a search of the land register that the flats for which she had handed over HK$735,000 in 2012 had been sold to someone else.
She called police after Wong failed to keep her promise to repay her in full and her cheque for HK$600,000 bounced back.
At the same time, Wong had been luring her acquaintance, To Wai-kwong, to buy the flats since September 2010. They signed multiple agreements, but each time Wong delayed the transaction while demanding extra deposits.
She would claim the flats were not ready or that she needed money. At other times she would say a relative was ill.
When To appeared unwilling to proceed, Wong threatened to forfeit all deposits. But then she tried to cheat him further by claiming she would double the refund deposit if the transaction was cancelled. She gave him post-dated cheques, but these also bounced as her bank account had already been cancelled.
Over the course of 22 months, Wong demanded deposits on 14 occasions and took HK$1.98 million from To alone.
Wong pleaded not guilty last month to three counts of evasion of liability by deception.
Judge Sham Siu-man found after trial that she had knowingly written cheques she knew could not be cashed in order to delay her responsibility to compensate the buyers.
“The defendant gave the court the impression of being a rather cunning person. Her behaviour was no doubt one of a fraud,” he said. “She had never thought of selling the flats.”
Wong will be sentenced on Tuesday. The offence is punishable by up to 10 years’ imprisonment, but the District Court can only impose a maximum jail term of seven years.