Hong Kong police bust alleged HK$1.5 million credit card fraud syndicate

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 21 April, 2015, 5:39pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 21 April, 2015, 5:39pm

A Hong Kong syndicate alleged to have cheated local banks out of HK$1.5 million through purchases made on credit cards they obtained with bogus identification and bank documents, was smashed with the arrest of four suspects, police said.

Initial investigation showed the gang used the credit cards for shopping and online purchases of electronic products and luxury handbags and then sold them to cash in, according to a police source.

“Once they got the cards, they spent up to the limit and then called the banks to get the limit raised,” the source said.

He said the syndicate, which had been in operation since January, fraudulently obtained fewer than 10 credit cards from several local banks, but each card had a high credit limit.

“We believe the cards were used in more than 100 transactions and the total amount they stole reached about HK$1.5 million,” the police source said.

Police believe four Hongkongers arrested on Monday night at a To Kwa Wan apartment were the core figures of the syndicate.

Inside the flat, more than 10 fake identity cards, five credit cards and some forged documents were confiscated along with more than 20 credit card applications, which were ready to be sent. A small quantity of the drug Ice was also seized.

Goods believed to have been bought with the cards were recovered. They included luxury handbags and electronic products such as televisions, mobile phones and computers.

In the afternoon, officers were still looking for a Hong Kong man – alleged to be a mastermind of the syndicate – in connection with the case.

The commercial crime bureau began to investigate the syndicate after receiving a complaint last month.

Officers believe the gang used old buildings with lax security as postal addresses for the credit cards and rented mailboxes at the post office in order to collect goods they bought online.

“We pored over security-camera footage and checked the telephones they used to identify the members of the syndicate,” the source said.

After spending several weeks to collect evidence, officers raided an apartment in Yuk Yat Street at about 8pm on Monday and picked up the three men and one woman, aged between 36 and 46.

Police arrested them on suspicion of conspiracy to defraud, handling stolen property and possessing illegal drugs.

The four were still being held for questioning and neither had been charged. The investigation continues.