Hong Kong cleaner jailed after letting strangers into mahjong school to cheat customers

He opened door to two men who switched school’s tiles with those that would reveal players’ hands

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 07 June, 2017, 1:12pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 07 June, 2017, 1:12pm

A cleaner was jailed for eight months by a Hong Kong court on Tuesday for helping strangers enter a mahjong school in Yau Ma Tei to cheat customers.

The Kowloon City Court heard that two men had switched the school’s tiles with those that were marked to show players’ hands.

The markings on the backs of these tiles were invisible to the naked eye but when viewed with a special pair of glasses, they would help reveal the symbols and Chinese characters on the front of the tiles.

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But none of the tampered mahjong tiles made it to an actual game because the manager of the mahjong school, finding that they were of a different colour, looked at CCTV footage and saw the cleaner opening the door for the two men to switch the tiles earlier that morning on January 16.

Wong Kin-ming, 29, now a driver, pleaded guilty last month to one count of attempt to cheat at gambling.

Principal magistrate Peter Law Tak-chuen said the case involved a very serious breach of trust, as an employee had conspired with outsiders to cheat customers in a scheme that could earn them a lot of money had they succeeded.

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“Honesty is very important when it comes to playing at mahjong schools,” he said after viewing the tiles in court. “It could seriously affect the mahjong school’s reputation if there were swindlers around.”

The case involved six mahjong sets placed on three tables.

Upon arrest, Wong said a stranger named “Ah Fai” had promised to pay him HK$3,000 a day to open the door to his accomplices to switch the tiles.

He also told police that “Ah Fai” planned for someone to play in the mahjong school so they could cheat other players.

His lawyer revealed in mitigation that he never received the reward.

All of the tampered mahjong tiles have since been confiscated.