Two men who posed as representatives from the central government’s liaison office to cheat eight businessmen and a Feng Shui master out of a total of more than HK$300,000 were convicted of fraud on Thursday.
Wong Ho-Kay, 56, the mastermind behind a series of scams lasting one year from September 2012, pleaded guilty to nine charges of fraud and one of perverting the course of justice. Accomplice Eric Ho Kwok-wai, 43, was found guilty of one count of fraud.
The District Court heard that Wong, going by the name “Michael Chung”, claimed to be a representative of the liaison office with the authority to publish official books and publications on major current affairs topics such as the 15th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to China.
Prosecutor Jeff Ho said Wong’s usual tactic was to invite his victims to an interview with his “official” publications and then ask them to pay an advertisement fee.
Ho was responsible for going as the reporter and conducting the interviews. The pair would suggest them place advertisements in the publications, saying this could promote their business, and then request a fee, the court heard.
Feng Shui master James Lee Shing-chak, Wong’s first victim, paid him HK$24,000, while food importer Ellis Wong Wai-hung of Kiu Fung Hong lost HK$129,000, the court heard.
Allan Lee Yuk-lun, vice-president of Tung Wah Group of Hospitals and a member of the Political Consultative Conference’s Beijing committee, was almost tricked when he was asked to place an advertisement for HK$29,000.
Lee later confirmed with the liaison office that there were no such representatives or publication plan and then called the police.
Ho was arrested on April 24 last year after meeting Lee during an interview that was also attended by a policewoman who disguised herself as Lee’s employee.
Wong turned himself several days later. But upon being released on bail, he cheated two more people in July and August – by posing as the reporter. He was arrested on August 16, 2013, the court heard.
In mitigation, barrister Michael Leung, representing Wong, said he did print out hundreds of copies of publications containing the interviews and advertisements and “explanations of national policies such as the 12th Five Year Plan”.
The court also heard Wong was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2011 and came up with the plan to earn quick money to leave to his family.
Sentenced for Wong and Ho by Judge Josiah Lam is scheduled for February 10.