Dating site cheat blew millions after duping sisters, Hong Kong court told
Prosecutor says the married dock worker posed as a wealthy interior designer to fool the women, then spent the money on a Mercedes and designer goods
Two young sisters were cheated out of more than HK$3.67 million in three months by a married dock worker they met through an online dating platform, prosecutors said on Thursday.
The District Court heard that Chu Tak-fai, 34, settled his personal loans then blew most of the money on a new Mercedes-Benz, four Rolex watches, three Louis Vuitton bags, a pair of Cartier rings, four gold medallions and a month’s stay at a luxury boutique hotel.
By the time he was arrested last July, he told police: “I cheated Ah Shan’s money – there are only hundreds of thousands left.”
He pleaded not guilty to five counts of fraud before Judge Johnny Chan Jong-herng.
Prosecutors claimed that soon after Chu started dating the younger sister, Sin Lai-shan, he tricked her into thinking he needed money to repay company loans and talked Sin and her sister into making “investments”.
Sin, a 24-year-old pastry chef, testified that she met Chu, whom she nicknamed “fat boy”, through online dating app Badoo in March last year.
Chu had introduced himself as a highly-paid interior designer named Thomas Fung with an office in Harbour City, Tsim Sha Tsui.
“He said his job was very important and senior,” Sin recalled. “His monthly bonuses were about HK$200,000 to HK$300,000.”
However, the court heard that before the month was out he had begun asking her for loans to cover company funds that had been stolen by a colleague and said he would lose his job and bonuses if the money was not replenished or if police found out.
“At first I lent him the money. When I didn’t have enough funds, I asked my sister,” Sin said. “I told my sister we were lovers and that I hoped we could develop further in the future, get married and have children.”
Prosecutor Patricia Wong said Chu then told Sin about an investment scheme that would make her tens of thousands of dollars in three months and that he would let her pocket all the profits.
She provided HK$85,000 in cash after Chu claimed to have lost his wallet and could not provide bank account details.
At the same time, he allegedly persuaded elder sister Sin Lai-mei, 26, to join the scheme after learning that her family had profited from a property sale and had money in her account.
After the sisters agreed in April to join the scheme to help fund a new flat purchase by their family, Chu reportedly asked them to top up their investment.
Later he asked for a further HK$186,000 to remove other investors from the scheme and HK$193,000 to leave the scheme prematurely, Wong said.
Chu disappeared three days later on about June 1, even as the sisters were preparing to pay him HK$59,000 to cover a “fine” for trying to shut down the investment.
“From then on, the defendant’s mobile phone could not be reached,” Wong said.
He was arrested after the sisters called police on June 14.
Chu later admitted in a police interview that he knew nothing about investments.
After the hearing on Thursday a dispute erupted between police and reporters as officers tried to secure a public lift for the witnesses’ departure and asked other people to wait for the next one.
Two reporters were eventually allowed to share the same lift after security guards intervened.
The six-day trial continues.