Crime syndicates are using jobless people and drug addicts as homebuyers in a property scam that is snaring millions of dollars of cash rebates from developers and banks. The Commercial Crime Bureau uncovered 94 such fraud cases between March and September involving flats worth a total of $108 million. Nineteen people have been arrested so far. Of the 94 cases, police successfully stopped banks from approving 48 of the mortgage applications. In the remaining 46 cases, flats worth a total of $49 million were bought. Head of the bureau, Chief Superintendent Wong Fook-chuen, believes the property fraud is unique to Hong Kong. Mr Wong said culprits were taking advantage of the economic slump in which developers and banks were enticing clients with cash rebates and deferrals of loan repayments. Under the scam, the syndicates register shell companies and hire drug addicts or jobless people as 'flat buyers', paying them thousands of dollars as a reward. The syndicates use the shell companies to falsify employment records for the 'flat buyers' and open bank accounts for them, depositing money regularly into the accounts as proof of their income. The syndicates then arrange for the 'flat buyers' to purchase flats, targeting those with incentives such as two or three-year deferral of loan repayments. The 'flat buyers' then apply for a mortgage of up to 70 per cent of the property price from a bank and a second loan to cover the remaining sum from the developer or other loan schemes. The syndicates enjoy all the sweeteners offered by the developers and banks, such as cash rebates and furniture vouchers. Mr Wong said police investigations revealed that the syndicates planned to rent out the flats until the mortgage repayments became due. At this time the 'flat buyers' would declare bankruptcy, he said. Mr Wong said police began investigating the crime after noticing some unusual mortgage activities. Banks have been asked to review their clients' information.