A sophisticated global investment scam using Internet sites to con buyers has fleeced Hong Kong people of millions of dollars, UK investigators on their way to the SAR have revealed. Police investigating the scam estimate the fraudsters - who have set up bank accounts and offices in Switzerland, Guernsey, Belize, Austria, Malta and the West Indies - could have netted billions of dollars worldwide, much of it from investors in Hong Kong, Singapore and other Asian countries. Potential investors are sent brochures offering shares in funds at 'special' low prices, and are referred to Internet sites which appear to track the sham funds' daily growth. But when buyers try to pull out, they are advised to switch to another 'promising investment' and send more money, told they cannot have their money back, or their calls go unanswered. Detective Constable Martin Woods of Britain's National Crime Squad said there was little chance victims would get their money back. He said the sophistication of the con and the money spent to make it look convincing meant there may not be much left if the brains behind the operation are ever caught. The operation was uncovered through documents found during a police raid on a London solicitor's office over an unrelated crime. 'There are an immense number of victims. It's multi-multi-millions of dollars,' Detective Constable Woods said. 'Previous similar scams have netted billions of dollars.' British financial investigator Tony Hetherington said the operation had existed under different names for at least four years. He understood the masterminds were Canadian and said investigators suspected the scam was started with Colombian drug money. A Lam Tin engineer who sank more than $120,000 into worthless investments said he was convinced by brochures he received after answering a magazine advertisement. He monitored what he believed were independent Web sites, and items about the funds in the International Herald Tribune's Internet edition, which he thought were news items but were actually advertisements. Detective Constable Woods, of the Money Laundering Investigation Team, will interview known Hong Kong victims - who have lost about $2 million between them - at the British Consulate early next month before going on to Singapore. He says the cases his team are investigating would probably only scratch the surface, as many local victims would have written off the loss as a bad investment and not called police. Three other local people have lost $1.5 million, $230,000 and $78,000. A solicitor, magistrate and an accountant have been arrested in London on suspicion of laundering the proceeds of the operation through British bank accounts.