$3.5m fraud to send son to college

A LORRY driver, who became involved in a $3.5 million fraud in a bid to send his son to college in Britain, was jailed for two years and nine months at the District Court yesterday.

Chan Chi-cheung, 43, was used as the front man for a gang which swindled 33 companies out of goods including clothes, electrical products and even instant noodles.

Simon Lam, defending, said: 'His son wanted to go to the United Kingdom to further his studies.' Chan, who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to defraud, thought he could get money to help his 20-year-old son by joining the fraud gang, Mr Lam added.

The court heard Chan was introduced to the operation by people he met when working as boss of a massage parlour. The two men he plotted with are still at large.

Mr Lam said Chan allowed his name to be used for the registration of a bogus company.

He became the signatory to two bank accounts in the company name and signed blank cheques and other documents needed to purchase goods.

The lorry driver has previous convictions dating back to 1966, the court heard. At one stage he kept out of trouble for 16 years.

But he became involved in crime again after becoming addicted to drugs.

The business, Kwok Chak Industrial Company, operated from Kwai Chung.

At first gang members paid for the goods in cash, but once they had won the trust of suppliers they began paying with cheques signed by the defendant. In total, goods to the value of $3,541,802 were paid for by the fraudsters with cheques that bounced.

Prosecutor Sou Chiam said police recovered goods worth $1.8 million from two warehouses. Chan directed officers to one of them.

Deputy Judge Kwan said: 'I take into account his plea of guilty and his co-operation with the police leading to the recovery of a substantial quantity of goods.' Chan's promise to give evidence against his fellow conspirators if they were brought to court was also a factor to be taken into consideration, Judge Kwan said.