Pay up or we flood your flat – Hong Kong crime gangs use new tactic to collect debts

Police reveal ‘zero cost’ method after arresting two suspected triad members

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 09 March, 2017, 5:50pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 09 March, 2017, 8:38pm

Illegal debt collectors are using fire hoses to make people pay up – threatening to spoil their homes and belongings unless they hand over cash.

Police revealed the new tactic on Thursday after arresting two suspected triad members in connection with three reports of illegal debt collection in which one victim had his home flooded.

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The man, a decorator who lives in a public housing flat in Tin Shui Wai, borrowed HK$8,000 from an unlicensed moneylender in Mong Kok in November but failed to pay it back.

When he returned home on February 19 after a three-day trip to the mainland, he found his flat flooded with water. Police are treating the case as criminal damage.

Senior Inspector Cheung Po-yuet of the New Territories North regional crime unit said illegal debt collectors used the fire hose in the corridor of the building.

Cheung said there was a similar case in Tuen Mun on January 21 and officers were investigating whether there was a link.

Debt collectors usually jam door locks with glue and pour paint on the doors of debtors’ flats in order to force them to pay. Police described the water method as “zero cost” with “low risk of being arrested”.

After a weeks-long investigation, police arrested two suspected members of the 14K triad in Sham Shui Po and Kwai Chung on Thursday morning.

Police believe the men, aged 22 and 29, were linked to two other cases of criminal intimidation in which two debtors received threats in Tin Shui Wai in January and February after failing to pay.

“Threats were sent through mobile phone saying their family members would be hurt if they failed to pay back money,” Cheung said.

The two suspects, both Hongkongers, were still being questioned on Thursday afternoon and had not been charged.