Officers lie in wait to arrest seven for alleged involvement in internet orders A fraud syndicate alleged to have used stolen credit card data and personal information to make online purchases has been smashed following the arrest of its ringleader and six core members, police say. The gang obtained the data by stealing mail, mostly from old buildings with poor security and sold the goods they bought cheaply to stores and grocers, the investigators say. More than 1,000 pieces of stolen mail, including credit cards, bank statements, utility and government bills and mobile phone invoices, were seized when officers broke into a flat in Austin Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, on Wednesday night. Half of them had not been opened. Daily necessities like cooking oil, napkins, shampoo and milk powder were seized from another flat next door, which was used as a storage centre for the goods. The gang was caught after supermarket chain ParknShop found it could not collect payment for some of the credit card purchases and noticed that different delivery addresses were being given for one account. Police lay in wait and arrested four people at two locations, including an hourly love hotel in Mong Kok, when they arrived to pick up deliveries. Chief Inspector Eric Chung Chi-ming of the Kowloon City crime squad said investigations showed the syndicate used the stolen data to open online accounts with supermarkets and department stores to make internet purchases. 'They used different bogus addresses or short-stay hotels for the deliveries but usually picked up the goods in the street,' he said. 'They then sold the goods to grocers or drug stores illegally at a discount of 20 to 30 per cent.' For the mail thefts, 'they targeted old buildings that have no security guard or do not have a main gate', Chief Inspector Chung said. Officers said the syndicate, which they described as sophisticated, had been operating for three or four months. Senior Inspector Tony Law Kwok-hoi said that to avoid detection they would use one online account for a month then switch to another. They would also go online at cyber cafes late at night to place orders. Police are still trying to work out the total value of the purchases. But investigation showed the gang had made five purchases in a fortnight through one online purchase account with ParknShop worth HK$6,000 to HK$7,000. Officers also seized a number of bogus company chops, five stolen identity cards and a list of bank contact numbers, raising the possibility the gang was trying to apply for personal loans with stolen information. Three men and a woman were arrested on Wednesday afternoon while taking deliveries. At about 8pm on the same day, officers arrested the suspected mastermind, 32, and his girlfriend, 31, in the Austin Road flat where the stolen mail was seized. The seventh suspect - a 30-year-old woman - was arrested in the adjacent flat. Yesterday, police advised residents living in old buildings with lax security not to have credit cards or confidential and important documents sent to their homes. 'They can pick up credit cards at banks or open a mail box with the post office,' Mr Chung said. Last night, the seven suspects, aged between 23 and 46, were being detained in Hung Hom police station for questioning but no one had been charged. ParknShop confirmed yesterday that the supermarket usually offered delivery to non-residential addresses, including hotels. A spokeswoman stressed that the company had worked closely with banks to maintain a secure system for customers to place internet orders. 'For each online transaction, we have a system to verify data,' she said. 'Our system is also able to reveal if there was more than one delivery address registered under one credit card for online purchase. We have also provided a set of guidelines for our staff responsible for our delivery service. But at this stage, we will not comment on the case as the police investigation is still in progress.'