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Crime in Hong Kong

Hong Kong police smash online scam gang who netted HK$7.5 million in luxury cars and handbags using fake cheques

Thirteen arrested in scam that lured victims with promise of high prices and quick sales, while using forged bank transfer documents

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 02 June, 2018, 7:17pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 02 June, 2018, 11:30pm

Police have smashed a criminal Hong Kong gang that used fake cheques and bank drafts to con HK$7.5 million (US$956,000) in luxury cars and handbags out of their unsuspecting victims.

The group has been linked to 23 online shopping scams in the city, which netted HK$763,000 worth of handbags, and three sports cars, including a Porsche 911 GT3, valued at a total of HK$6.41 million, plus the theft of 714 mobile phones.

Thirteen men were arrested in the two-day operation, two of whom were involved in Thursday’s high-speed chase in Sham Shui Po where a police officer was forced to draw his gun when the driver sped through a roadblock and tried to run him over.

Police are investigating whether the Honda Civic used had been stolen.

“The gang showed fake banker’s promissory notes to victims to mislead them that the money was transferred to their accounts,” said chief inspector Wilson Fan Chun-yip on Saturday. “The victims then handed the cars and keys over to culprits. Some even went to the Transport Department with the fraudsters to transfer vehicle ownership to them.”

The gang also deposited dud cheques into bag sellers’ bank accounts, Fan said. Sellers gave them the bags and only realised they were being ripped off when the cheques bounced.

Police said the group then re-sold the bags and cars on the market for a profit.

The two-day operation came amid a surge in online shopping scams, which jumped by 16.8 per cent to 632 cases in the first four months of this year. The total money loss in such scams reached HK$12.5 million – triple the figure of the same period of 2017.

According to the police’s cybersecurity and technology crime bureau, the gang operated between last September and this March.

The 13 men arrested ranged in age from 16 to 27, and included the two masterminds behind the scams, and 11 other gang members. Police are investigating as to whether the group has any triad connections.

Frank Law Yuet-wing, senior superintendent from the bureau, said the group attracted their victims online by offering high prices and quick sales.

Police are advising sellers to only take cash or to ensure a cheque has cleared before handing over any goods.

Hong Kong consumers need to be vigilant against online scams

In the early hours of Thursday, police had set up a roadblock near The Merrylands on Tai Po Road, towards Mong Kok.

As officers signalled for the driver to pull over, he accelerated and sped through the roadblock, prompting police to give chase.

A constable drew his gun and ordered the driver to stop. The policemen had to dodge as the car ignored warnings and sped away. He was not hit by the vehicle, but suffered a leg injury while trying to avoid it.

During the ensuing chase, the car hit two other vehicles while travelling on the wrong side of Tai Po Road and Wong Chuk Street in Sham Shui Po.