image image

Scams and swindles

Fake cheques helped Hong Kong gang net luxury cars and whisky worth HK$13 million

Police bust syndicate said to be responsible for 13 online shopping scams by which con artists walked away with two Maserati Ghiblis and a BMW X5

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 18 September, 2018, 9:01pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 18 September, 2018, 9:57pm

Hong Kong police have arrested 14 people after smashing a criminal gang which used fake cashier’s cheques to obtain HK$13.6 million (US$1.73 million) worth of luxury cars and whisky, officers revealed on Tuesday.

The 16 cheques looked so genuine that even frontline bank staff could not tell the difference, according to the police Cybersecurity and Technology Crime Bureau.

One of those arrested was charged and brought to court on Friday.

The group had operated since July and was thought to be responsible for at least 13 online shopping scams.

Superintendent Swalikh Mohammed said the gang had netted seven luxury cars worth a total of HK$5 million, including two Maserati Ghiblis and a BMW X5, by conning the sellers on social media. One victim lost 12 bottles of whisky worth HK$5 million.

The Post understands that only four of the seven cars have been recovered, including two Maseratis and a Mercedes-Benz ML250.

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

“A lot of the victims did not realise. Looking at the cashier orders, they looked like genuine ones. Even a bank would accept them,” Mohammed said.

The swindlers quickly disposed of the luxury goods for cash, he added.

The victims only realised they had been conned two days later when the bank transfer documents bounced.

Police arrested the culprits in a three-day operation after a surge in online shopping scams in the city. The number of cases jumped 9 per cent to 1,150 in the first seven months of this year. The amount of money lost reached HK$19.7 million – a 13 per cent jump on the same period last year.

The suspects – 13 men and one woman, all aged between 17 and 31 – included the mastermind and core members of the crime syndicate. It was understood some had triad backgrounds.

Chief Inspector Wilson Fan Chun-yip said the group had also posted job adverts on social media seeking young people to “handle the items”. The ads said recruits could earn quick money at no risk.

In June, police smashed a similar online scam gang who had netted HK$7.5 million in luxury cars and handbags using fake bank cheques and bank drafts.

Online romance scam record for Hong Kong as Wan Chai businesswoman loses US$23 million to ‘British engineer’

During the two-day operation, 13 individuals involved in 23 online shopping scams were arrested after luring sellers with promises of high prices and a quick sale.

Officers recovered HK$763,000 worth of handbags and three sports cars valued at a total of HK$6.41 million, including a Porsche 911 GT3. Police also seized 714 mobile phones.