Foreign domestic workers in Hong Kong

Two Indonesian tourists jailed in Hong Kong after cheating domestic workers of HK$40,000

District Court heard victims told to give valuables in order to get blessings from spiritual rites

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 18 July, 2017, 4:37pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 18 July, 2017, 4:56pm

Two Indonesian tourists were jailed for three years by a Hong Kong Court on Tuesday for cheating six domestic helpers out of HK$40,000 in valuables and cash in 10 days.

The pair claimed they could offer the workers blessings by performing spiritual rituals, with the District Court told that the two had convinced one victim the rituals would help get rid of her bad omen so her boss would treat her better.

The other domestic workers were told the rituals would offer them good luck and health, and protect them from harm.

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All six victims were Indonesians, with the eldest in her forties.

On several occasions, the men pretended they did not know each other, and had coincidentally bumped into their victims while one of them was asking for directions. They then offered to help the victims by performing spiritual rites.

The two men then said they would use some items – ranging from marbles to gemstones – which they claimed possessed supernatural powers in the rituals. In return, the victims were asked to present their valuables to show their sincerity.

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“The more valuable the items [that the victim] left behind, the more effective [the power to get] rid of the bad omen,” prosecutor Fergus Chau told the court.

The six women left behind their jewellery, phones, wallets and even their bank cards with their pass codes.

Some also offered cash of up to HK$6,000, which is more than the statutory monthly salary of HK$4,310 for domestic workers in the city.

But the rituals were never done in full as the men would leave with their valuables after instructing them to buy drinks or tools to complete the blessing.

The offences took place over 10 days from December 1 last year.

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Romlan, 41, and Effendi, 32, who arrived in Hong Kong last November 30, pleaded guilty on Tuesday to six joint counts of fraud, an offence punishable by 14 years of imprisonment.

Judge Timothy Casewell said the case was aggravated by the number of offences committed within a period of 10 days.

Defence lawyers argued in mitigation that both men had clear records before the offences and had pleaded guilty at an early stage.

The court also heard that Romlan, a father of five, earned a small monthly wage of 3 million Indonesian rupiahs (HK$1,800) as a security guard back in Indonesia, while Effendi was experiencing financial difficulties as the sole breadwinner of his family.

“He felt ashamed for preying on his own fellow Indonesians,” lawyer Edward Gopaoco said on behalf of Romlan. “Fortunately, some items were recovered.