Syndicate racked up HK$650,000 in shopping spree on stolen credit cards

Police said the cards were stolen and used in shopping sprees before being discarded

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 30 March, 2017, 1:34pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 30 March, 2017, 10:21pm

Police have arrested four suspected members of a fraud syndicate that used stolen credit cards to rack up HK$650,000 in bills on shopping sprees in Hong Kong.

Authorities said the gang had been in operation since October last year and was involved in at least 28 cases in Sham Shui Po. Officers were investigating whether the syndicate was behind similar cases across the city.

“The stolen cards [in the 28 cases] were used for purchasing mobile phones, electronic products and cigarettes in various shopping malls, and the total amount involved was about HK$650,000,” a source said.

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He added that the card owners only realised their cards had been stolen when they were informed by the bank of transactions they did not perform.

“To avoid detection, the stolen cards were usually thrown away hours after being used,” the source said, adding that the purchased items were possibly sold in exchange for cash.

The source said police were still investigating how the gang obtained the cards.

Detectives from the Sham Shui Po district crime squad began tracking the syndicate after receiving complaints about a month ago.

After identifying key figures of the gang in the past few weeks, ­police swooped into action on Wednesday evening.

Officers lay in wait outside a Tat Chee Avenue shopping mall in Kowloon Tong. Shortly before 8.30pm, they intercepted a 43-year-old man and found two ­stolen credit cards on him.

Three iPhones, a watch, and a gift card with a stored value of HK$17,000, believed to have been bought with the two cards in the mall, were also found on the man.

Police also suspect he may be a triad member.

Officers arrested another man and two women in the suspect’s car, which was parked nearby.

The four Hongkongers were detained over conspiracy to defraud.

“We are still hunting for the mastermind and other members of the syndicate,” a source said.

As of last night, the four ­suspects, aged 19 to 43, were being held for questioning and had not been charged.