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Scams and swindles

Misplaced love left Chinese woman in Australia HK$2.16 million out of pocket to fraudsters

Yu Qiong files lawsuit in Hong Kong to retrieve huge amount lost in online romance scam after she was conned into investing in firms on Singapore’s stock market

PUBLISHED : Friday, 13 July, 2018, 6:15pm
UPDATED : Friday, 13 July, 2018, 10:38pm

A Chinese woman based in Australia has filed a lawsuit in Hong Kong claiming four fraudsters cheated her out of US$275,000 (HK$2.16 million) in an online romance scam, a court writ shows.

The legal action came to light on Friday just a day after Hong Kong police revealed they had arrested 31 members of a gold trading scam in which attractive female brokers sweet-talked 33 men into dodgy investments worth HK$19 million.

According to the writ, filed on Thursday, Yu Qiong said she had been taken for a ride by a man called Lee Hoi after the pair made contact on a dating website in April last year.

“Soon after, [Yu] and Lee became lovers,” the writ said, even though their relationship was conducted solely through phone calls and messages.

Within a month, Lee began telling Yu about how he handled financial affairs for clients at Prudential Brokerage Limited, and he successfully convinced Yu to invest in firms on the Straits Times Index, the benchmark index for Singapore’s stock market.

Lee also told Yu he was in need of extra funds to deal with Hong Kong’s Securities and Futures Commission.

Between May 15 and 26, Yu followed Lee’s instructions to transfer a total of US$275,000 into various Hong Kong Hang Seng Bank and HSBC accounts in multiple transactions.

The accounts belonged to holders by the names of Wang Jin, Yang Xiucan, Zhou Jun and Chang Haih Hsia, according to the writ.

Yu is seeking the entire sum together with interest.

10 ‘sweet-talking, pretty girls’ among suspects arrested over London gold trading scams, Hong Kong police say

The court document said Yu had since tried to contact Lee but to no avail.

“Lee has terminated his telephone service,” the writ said.

Hong Kong has been plagued by online and telephone scams in recent years.

In the 11 months since a specialist fraud squad was set up by police to tackle the problem, more than 1,100 requests have been received to halt payments scam victims had initiated. These payments totalled HK$3.26 billion.

The squad has helped freeze about HK$490 million in almost 270 separate cases before the funds reached the scammers, according to sources.

Requests for help involved about 570 commercial email fraud cases, 180 social media deception cases, including romance scams, nearly 170 phone scams and 115 cases of investment fraud.

Police say the number of online romance scams has risen sharply this year, but reports of phone scams have decreased. The Post reported last month that 159 people were duped out of HK$98 million in internet love scams in the first four months – an increase of more than 200 per cent on the 50 cases in the same period last year, when scammers bagged HK$21 million.