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Scams and swindles

Four Hongkongers arrested for cheating victims of HK$15,000 with fake gift vouchers

Suspects allegedly printed bogus coupons with discounts of up to 30 per cent then sold them via social media

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 28 November, 2017, 1:52pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 28 November, 2017, 9:50pm

A Hong Kong syndicate that produced bogus gift coupons and sold them online was smashed after the arrest of its alleged ringleader and three core figures, police said on Tuesday.

The capture of four Hongkongers – two men and their girlfriends – came after at least three victims were tricked out of HK$15,000 (just under US$2,000) in total early this month.

The suspects, aged between 29 and 34, were picked up when officers from the Commercial Crime Bureau raided a subdivided flat at the junction of Ki Lung Street and Portland Street in Mong Kok shortly before daybreak on Tuesday.

Inside the flat, officers seized 18 fake gift vouchers with a total face value of HK$54,000. The fakes included copies of coupons issued by telecom companies and supermarkets. Equipment for making the fake coupons, including two inkjet printers, a laptop computer and company stamps, was also seized, along with a small quantity of suspected drug Ice.

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A police source said the gang sold the fake coupons via a social media platform and offered a discount of up to 30 per cent to attract buyers.

“One of the victims was duped out of HK$10,000 spent on two fake vouchers with a face value of HK$14,000,” the source said.

According to police, face-to-face transactions were carried out at MTR stations. The victims were given fake coupons after handing over the money. They realised they had been cheated when they tried to use the coupons while shopping.

Senior Inspector Barry Tang Kwok-hin of the Commercial Crime Bureau said the quality of the bogus coupons was good, and the fakes could not be easily distinguished from real coupons.

Shop staff could identify the fakes by checking security features such as serial numbers and barcodes.

Tang appealed to consumers to buy such gift coupons only from authorised sellers and to be cautious while shopping online.

“We believe the syndicate had been in operation for a month,” he said.

Officers began to investigate the gang after receiving complaints from victims early this month.

The four suspects were arrested for forgery, possession of equipment for making forged documents and possession of a dangerous drug.

Tang warned that forgery was a serious offence, with a maximum penalty of 14 years in jail.

By Tuesday afternoon, the suspects were being held for questioning and had not been charged. Police said investigations were continuing.