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Crime in Hong Kong

Did identity theft gang that stole HK$5.7 million in gold from Hong Kong victim commit 2015 heist?

Police have been hunting for four suspects for almost a year, now they need public’s help to find them

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 18 April, 2018, 5:09pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 18 April, 2018, 10:45pm

Police believe a Hong Kong gang stalked their victim before stealing his identity card and using a lookalike to take nearly HK$6 million (US$764,000) from his bank account last year.

The 61-year-old resident only discovered the theft several days later, by which time the gang had turned HK$5.7 million of their haul into 17 gold bars.

On Wednesday, after almost a year of trying to catch the four suspects, police issued CCTV images of the man who posed as the victim and his accomplices, to get the public’s help in tracking them down.

Describing the theft as “well-planned”, a police source said: “We believe the gang obtained information about the victim through different channels because they knew how to copy his signature, and knew the details of his bank account that had so much money.”

Central district crime squad detectives, who have been unable to recover any of the money or gold, are also looking into the possibility that another case from 2015 is related.

In that incident, a similar tactic was used to steal more than HK$8 million from the bank accounts of a 52-year-old female investor.

Police said the latest victim, who the Post understands is a white-collar worker, first contacted them on June 20 to report that he had lost his identity card, and that someone pretending to be him had visited two branches of his bank, on Queen’s Road Central, and in Yau Ma Tei.

The impostor had withdrawn HK$195,000 in cash on June 13 from the Central branch, before visiting the other bank the following day and transferring HK$5.7 million into the bank account of an unidentified goldsmith shop.

“One of the gangsters went to the goldsmith shop on the same day to pick up 17 gold bars,” the source said. “The victim lost HK$5.895 million in total.”

The police source said the gang had ordered the gold bars, which weighed one kilogram each, from the shop before transferring the money.

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Police believe the four suspects are Hongkongers because they are all fluent in Cantonese. All roughly 1.7 metres tall, one of them is thought to be aged between 50 and 55, and of a thin build, while another is a baldheaded man of a larger build.

Officials refused to reveal any details of the victim, a Hong Kong resident, or the names of the bank and the goldsmith shop.

Police are treating the case as obtaining property by deception, and have asked members of the public with information to contact officers on 3661 1181 or 5542 5142.

In Hong Kong, the offence carries a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment under the Theft Ordinance.

According to official statistics, police handled 7,091 reports of deception across the city last year, 2.3 per cent down compared with the same figure in 2016.