Suspects allegedly preyed on job seekers and convinced them to put their savings in bogus silver market trading Fifteen people have been arrested on suspicion of cheating 51 job seekers out of $13.5 million in an investment scam, police said yesterday. The victims lost more than $210,000 each on average, after being persuaded to invest in the London silver trading market, only to discover later that all the transactions carried out in their names were bogus, officers said. The eight men and seven women arrested are accused of being part of a syndicate that set up three companies in either Tsim Sha Tsui or Wan Chai and placed job advertisements in newspapers to find their victims. Last night they were being held for questioning and no one had been charged. Police said most of the syndicate's members had been arrested in the operation. 'Victims were first attracted to work for the firms as clerks and offered a monthly salary as much as $10,000,' one investigator said. Most of the time they had no work, aside from simple tasks like copying. 'The victims were later persuaded to invest in the London silver trading market. They were initially told that they had made some money. 'They later realised that they had been duped, after they lost all the money,' a police source said, adding that the so-called transactions were bogus. Police said one of the victims lost more than $1.2 million in a relatively short period. Some only worked for the firms for about a month before they quit or were dismissed. Officers said the syndicate targeted middle-aged job seekers of varied backgrounds. The alleged offences took place between August 1998 and February 2000, they said. Explaining why police took so long to make the arrests, officers said the victims lodged their complaints to police as individual cases in different districts until investigators discovered the link. Early yesterday, teams of officers from the Commercial Crime Bureau swooped, raiding a number of locations across the city and arresting 15 suspects. At about 9.30am, the hooded and handcuffed suspects, who were arrested on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud, were escorted by police officers to North Point Police Station where they were being held for questioning. A police spokeswoman said the operation was continuing last night. Police officers urged people looking for jobs to be suspicious if they were asked to invest money in something or to pay an amount of money to buy products or receive training in order to get a job. Since 1999, 212 people have successfully been prosecuted in connection with similar offences and jailed for up to eight years. Police have also applied to the courts under the Organised and Serious Crimes Ordinance to retain assets linked with such illegal activities from defendants. Officers said six major defendants among the 212 had $24.4 million worth of assets retained under the court orders.