GREEDY businessmen quitting Hong Kong before 1997 are committing multi-million dollar frauds to kick-start their new lives abroad, police say. In the last 18 months, residents bound for Canada have swiped at least $250 million from companies and creditors in the territory after securing visas. Canadian detectives said they knew of at least 14 such frauds since January 1994, ranging in extent from $4.4 million to $26 million. In the United States a Hong Kong entrepreneur is facing extradition for an $18.7 million scam and another is under investigation for a $14 million swindle. In October police arrested a businessman as he left to start a new life in Australia with $5.4 million stolen from creditors. All the cases involved first-time offenders trying their luck after obtaining permission to settle overseas. Chief Superintendent Neil McCabe, of the Commercial Crime Bureau, said: 'We do have a new phenomenon we call emigration fraud. It's quite true. 'We've had a number of cases recently where people decide to emigrate and want to make a nice little nest egg for themselves. 'It's usually a business with a history of 10 years or more which is a family affair, well run and well established. 'They up their purchases on credit, get rid of their stock while the cheques are waiting to be honoured and then the company closes overnight. 'In a lot of these cases the closure coincides with a long weekend. They disappear and head off for pastures new. 'But these places are not safe havens. With perseverance we almost always track them down.' Canadian immigration authorities run police checks on would-be residents before granting visas. But there is little they can do if someone with a clean record commits a crime as they leave Hong Kong. Gary Lagimodiere, of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, said: 'It's a fairly recent phenomenon - people wanting to emigrate, but wanting to emigrate rich. 'They obtain the visa, commit the fraud and then take off. By the time police have investigated they find the person has already gone.'