A Taiwanese man and his girlfriend who were hired to launder HK$20 million through 19 accounts in what police said was an international lottery scam were jailed for five years and 16 months respectively. Deputy District Judge Garry Tallentire said the scheme was extremely sophisticated and well executed. Although the couple were not the masterminds, without their accounts the victims would not have lost their money, he said. Lin Meng-chang, 56, a decoration-company owner, had earlier pleaded guilty to one count of possessing false travel documents and four of conspiracy to deal with the proceeds of an indictable offence. Mi Xiaoyan, 22, pleaded guilty to collaborating with Lin on one of his conspiracy charges. Judge Tallentire said Lin played a major role, was older, and used Mi's feelings for him. Mi acted out of naivety and love for Lin and did not get any financial benefit for what she did, he said. Lin was to receive 1 per cent of the funds he laundered. Senior Inspector Michael Ho Kam-yee, of the commercial crimes bureau, said the court had given a strong message - that if anyone laundered money in Hong Kong, they would receive a harsh punishment. One suspect in the scam was still on the run, he said. Senior Inspector Ho said there were similar organisations, mainly comprising Taiwanese, who tricked overseas Chinese into believing they had won in betting schemes and had to pay fees to retrieve the money. Scammers typically targeted people who were naive and persuaded them to open accounts through which the scammers later laundered their money, he said. In Lin's and Mi's case, the court heard that a woman in Singapore was fooled into paying HK$1.7 million when a woman phoned to tell her she had to pay a fee to collect lottery prizes of US$50,000 and S$2 million (HK$10.3 million). A Chinese woman living in Japan paid out HK$150,000 when a man claiming to be from the Jockey Club persuaded her via MSN to invest in a new betting plan. Counsel for the defendants earlier said in mitigation that Lin, a divorcee with two children, needed to care for his elderly mother, while Mi gave up most of her income from a hotel to support her brother's education.