A man was arrested for his alleged role in a fraud racket in which scammers posed as a flat owner and duped a potential buyer out of about HK$3 million in deposit payments. The unemployed 40-year-old man, a suspected drug addict, was believed to be part of a gang whose members pretended to be a flat owner selling a property in residential estate Festival City in Tai Wai for HK$9.2 million, about 10 per cent below the price of similar units, in November. The gang collected the personal data of the flat owner before the arrested man officially changed his name to match the real owner’s. He then opened a bank account to collect a HK$2.92 million deposit from the victim in February. His name was officially changed back to the original one after the money was obtained. Police said the gang had produced a fake identity card carrying the name of the real owner as well as other forged documents during the process and had signed a provisional agreement for sale and purchase for the transaction with the buyer. Bogus property owners scam millions from Hong Kong buyers and banks The buyer, a law firm and a property agent were all outsmarted. The victim called the police after failing to claim the flat. The man was arrested on Tuesday night when he visited his girlfriend at a flat on Yee Kuk Street in Sham Shui Po. Some drugs and drug paraphernalia were also found on him. “The case had not been exposed for two to three months until the real flat owner received debt notices from a financial firm and a bank. The payment involved had already been cashed out by the swindlers,” Chief Inspector Kattie Chan Ching-sum from the Commercial Crime Bureau said. Another scammer involved was arrested earlier. Chan’s team is hunting for the others involved. In May, police said con artists posing as flat owners had duped finance companies and home buyers out of HK$227 million in the last three years. The force recorded 52 reports of property fraud involving more than HK$227 million in total since 2013. Just this year, police handled eight cases involving 13 properties and more than HK$80 million. The most common tactic was to use forged title deeds and identity cards to claims loans. Scammers also used fake identification documents to open bank accounts which were used to collect the money if a mortgage application was granted.