Brokers posed as women to win over male clients in Hong Kong gold trading scam
Police arrest 54 suspects in continued crackdown on investment syndicates
Male brokers involved in a gold trading scam allegedly posed as women to win the trust of male clients, police revealed on Monday as they arrested another 54 suspects in a continued crackdown on such syndicates.
More than 200 officers raided two companies on Mody Road in Tsim Sha Tsui and Hoi Bun Road in Kwun Tong. The 49 male and five female suspects, aged 16 to 38, were believed to include the firms’ directors, shareholders and brokers. Some of the core members had triad backgrounds.
Cash, computers, mobile phones, bank cards and suspected transaction documents were confiscated, as well as five cars, including two Porsches and a Mercedes-Benz. A flat worth HK$5 million (US$637,000) was also seized.
Bank accounts belonging to about 20 victims, containing an estimated HK$1.37 million, were frozen.
The raids on Monday were led by the Organised Crime and Triad Bureau and involved several other units including the Commercial Crime Bureau and the Cyber Security and Technology Crime Bureau.
The arrests were the result of a 21-month operation against the firms, which were said to have drawn young investors from the city, mainland China, Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia through mobile messaging applications. At least one undercover officer had infiltrated the companies to learn how the scammers operated.
The firms, which had been operating for more than two years, told potential clients that their investment schemes would bring big rewards. The brokers tried to persuade clients to authorise them to control their investment accounts so that they could trade gold on the London market.
Male brokers would also pose as women to win over male clients.
Investors were later notified that their principals had been lost in trading. The firms would then relocate and break contact.
The number of victims and their total losses were not yet known, police said, though some individuals had invested more than HK$10 million.
The suspects were arrested for conspiracy to defraud and money laundering and have been detained.
Ten “pretty, sweet-talking” female brokers were among 35 people arrested earlier this month in a crackdown on a gold trading syndicate that duped 64 men out of about HK$26 million.
Police said the group hired young, attractive girls, mostly secondary school graduates, and disguised them as “star financial consultants” to fish for victims on social media. The girls then persuaded the men to pay to trade gold on the London market. Some even promised to develop romantic relationships with clients.