How Hong Kong triad members get paid as little as HK$200 to terrorise neighbours to force debtors to pay

Two men arrested in connection with case in which door of a debtor’s neighbour was splashed with red paint; man owing money was thought to have fled to mainland

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 25 May, 2017, 4:24pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 25 May, 2017, 4:26pm

Unscrupulous debt collectors are paid as little as HK$200 to terrorise neighbours to increase pressure on debtors, according to police.

They were usually hired to splash paint and daub slogans on a door or wall of debtors’ neighbours or stick posters on walls on the whole floor demanding payment, a force insider said.

“They are given the targeted address and asked to take photographs of their act. After completing their job, money will be deposited into their bank account,” he said. “Intelligence shows they are paid HK$200 to HK$500 each for the job.”

it is understood some borrowers unable to settle their debts are being recruited to carry out such work.

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Police revealed the tactics on Thursday after arresting two suspected members of the Wo On Lok triad, also known as Shui Fong, in connection with a criminal damage case in which the door of a Tin Shui Wai apartment was splashed with red paint last month.Posters demanding a neighbour pay were found at the scene.

Investigations showed the tenants of the flat did not have any debt problems, but their neighbour had borrowed HK$15,000 from a finance company last year and was unable to settle the debt, according to police.

It is understood the debtor left the city and hid on the mainland, but his family received nuisance telephone calls to demand payment earlier this year.

Senior Inspector Cheung Po-yuet of New Territories North regional crime unit said: “It’s a deliberate act to make the borrower feel shame and pressure him to pay”.

She said it was one of the tactics used by debt collectors.

In another case she handled last year , she said the door of a debtor was not defaced but the doors of his five neighbours were splashed with red paint.

Police warned that splashing paint on a door or a wall was an act of criminal damage and that it carried a maximum penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment.

After investigations into the incident in Tin Shui Wai, officers swooped into action and arrested two men aged 23 and 34 in Kwai Chung and Yau Ma Tei between 6am and 9am on Thursday.

Cheung said initial investigations showed the two Hongkongers were paid HK$300 each to carry out such acts. She said the pair would be released on bail pending further investigation.

Police figures showed there were 530 reports of criminal intimidation and 1,662 reports of criminal damage across the city in the first four months of this year.