A visitor from mainland China suspected to have been recruited by underground banks to cross the border and withdraw cash from ATMs was robbed of more than HK$350,000 (US$44,770) in a hold-up in Hong Kong before dawn on Thursday. The 28-year-old man from Heilongjiang was waylaid by five robbers after he took about 30 minutes to withdraw the cash from a machine on Nathan Road in Yau Ma Tei at about 4.45am. The Post understands that a friend of the man – a 30-year-old also from the mainland – was withdrawing cash from another ATM nearby at the time of the robbery. The pair had 50 bank cards between them. Police said the victim was attacked from behind a short distance from the machine. “The man was beaten on the back with an unknown hard object and pushed to the floor before the robbers grabbed his bag containing the money,” a police source said. The attack lasted about one minute before the five perpetrators fled on foot along Nathan Road, heading towards Mong Kok. The two mainlanders then returned to nearby Eaton Hotel where they had been staying, and sought help from hotel staff, who called the police. Officers scouted the area, but no arrests were made. Detectives from the Yau Tsim police district are handling the case. According to police, the five robbers were Chinese men thought to be aged between 20 and 30. One was carrying a fruit knife. “We don’t rule out the possibility that the culprits were opportunists who noticed the victim had occupied the ATM for a long time,” the source said. He said officers were checking security camera footage to gather evidence. The victim suffered minor injuries to his head and limbs. He was treated at nearby Queen Elizabeth Hospital and later discharged. At lunchtime on Thursday the two mainland men were helping police with their inquiries at Tsim Sha Tsui police station. Hong Kong police hunt thieves who stole cash from forgetful ATM customers Officers are also investigating why the two men were carrying so many bank cards issued on the mainland. It was understood the cards were from multiple account holders. “We suspect the pair worked for underground banks in mainland China,” the source said. Such withdrawals were made because the exchange rate offered in Hong Kong was better than that on the mainland, he added. When asked whether the withdrawals involved illegal activity such as money laundering, the source said: “Bank cards are not stolen cards. Police were told by the card users that the cards were from their relatives and friends on the mainland and they had been given the authority to use them in Hong Kong,” he said. It was understood police first noticed such withdrawals being made in the city in the middle of last year. Separately, a mainland man, 29, was robbed of 240,000 yuan (US$36,900) by a motorcycle rider on San Fung Avenue in Sheung Shui at about 4.30am last Thursday. The hold-up happened after he deposited about 160,000 yuan into bank accounts at an ATM. Police said a pillion passenger got off a motorcycle and threatened the victim with a knife before snatching his bag. The man then made his getaway on the same motorcycle. According to official statistics, police handled 137 reports of robbery across the city in the first 10 months of 2017, down 39 per cent compared with the figure for the same period in 2016.