300 victims of ‘living Buddha’ scam seek help from Hong Kong police after HK$80 million in losses

Group accuses a man on the run for cheating them with fake products and blessings, among other crimes

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 22 August, 2017, 5:18pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 22 August, 2017, 10:58pm

Some 300 people from mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan sought police help on Tuesday after they were cheated in an HK$80 million scam by a Hongkonger who claimed to be a “living Buddha with healing and blessing powers”.

The group, representing only about half of the total number of victims, gathered at the police headquarters in Wan Chai, holding banners and cardboard signs accusing a man called “Chen Baosheng” of being a “fake Buddhist” who used sales tactics such as pyramid schemes to “cheat people all over China for 13 years”.

“They claimed that the 62-year-old man held identity documents from both Hong Kong and Taiwan, with some calling him ‘Chan Po-sang’ in Cantonese,” a police spokesman told the Post.

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Pro-establishment lawmaker Edward Lau Kwok-fan, who attended the group’s gathering, said the man cheated more than 600 victims from the mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan out of more than HK$80 million by selling them fake nutritious products through his followers.

He also took money from them in return for blessings, or for charms to ward off disasters, Lau said.

Lau added that Hong Kong police would deal with most of the cases as the suspect held a Hong Kong identity card. He said the man had set up a Buddhist temple in To Kwa Wan, Kowloon, before fleeing overseas.

“We urge police to spare no effort in investigating the cases thoroughly and to arrest the person, to stop Hong Kong from becoming a centre for fraud,” he said.

Lau added that he had accompanied about 30 victims to lodge police reports about two months ago, including a case in which a Taiwanese woman accused the man of raping her.

On Tuesday morning, some of the 300 victims revealed their experiences to the media before filing police reports.

Chen Yalai, 33, from Guangdong province, said he first met the suspect in Hong Kong and acknowledged him as his master without any doubts after being encouraged by friends and followers of the alleged trickster.

“At the end of 2011, [the suspect] told me that the coming year would be a very critical year for me. To turn calamities into blessings, I must transfer money to an assigned account – where I put a total of 100,000 yuan (HK$117,000) over the next two years,” he said.

“From 2014 to 2017, [the suspect] continued to cite different reasons to push me to donate more money, such as claiming my bad luck was not yet removed.

“He even taught me to apply for several credit cards to cheat money from banks, and blamed me if the money I paid him every month was not enough.”

He Chuanan, 50, from Liaoning province, said he was cheated of 68,000 yuan (HK$80,000) by the man over blessings to ward off bad luck.

“The sum of money was my disability allowance from the government,” He, who only has one leg, said.

He said he was asked to pay 10,000 yuan to 30,000 yuan each time for services from the man, which the latter claimed would “prevent further disasters in life”.

“I trusted him fully in the beginning, as his followers spread stories of him possessing the power of Buddha,” he said. “I feel really angry after realising this was a scam. I hope Hong Kong police can help me get my money back.”

Another member of the group, Chen Chengguang, in his 50s, said he even borrowed money from relatives to seek services from the man.

“But my health did not get better, and I don’t have money for medical treatment any more,” he said.

Other accusers include patients in wheelchairs and a former security guard of a factory said to be owned by the man in Dalian, Liaoning province.

The guard said he was fired from his job with two months of unpaid salary after suffering from a heart disease.