Hong Kong beauty agent convicted of duping women into HK$200,000 worth of treatments in legal first
- Man given 160 hours’ community service and ordered to pay six victims HK$238,698 compensation in total
A Hong Kong man was handed community service on Monday for scamming six women into buying beauty treatments worth about HK$200,000 (US$25,500).
Wong Kit-cheong’s conviction was the first ever of a cosmetics trader accused of making a sale without making clear they stood to gain from it.
Eastern Court heard that the 26-year-old approached six victims through different social media platforms and took them to beauty centres in Mong Kok and Causeway Bay for expensive therapies.
The women later discovered that the man got 30 per cent commission from the sales.
“In the process, the agent hid his commercial intent, and misled and lured six consumers into procuring beauty services at high cost,” said a Customs and Excise Department spokesman.
“This is the first successful prosecution of a trader who failed to identify commercial intent in selling beauty services.”
The man was given 160 hours’ community service and ordered to pay the six victims HK$238,698 compensation in total, for violating the Trade Descriptions Ordinance.
Last year, at least 42 women complained they were chatted up online by handsome men who took them to beauty salons on the first date and forced them into buying expensive treatments, according to Democratic Party member Yuen Hoi-man.
Yuen, who has been helping the victims, said the women reported scams totalling HK$2.1 million, and that the men dumped them once they had signed up for treatment packages.
He said the fact Wong avoided jail undermined the law’s deterrent effect.
“Victims who experienced similar crimes felt very unhappy about the sentencing. They felt it was too light to allow the man to go free,” he said.
But Yuen revealed that one of the six victims in the case told him she accepted the court’s decision, as she felt the man was not the biggest beneficiary in the crime.
The city’s Consumer Council had received 966 complaints against beauty services for 2018 so far. Of those, 276 involved sales practices. It got 1,079 last year, 1,147 in 2017 and 1,240 in 2016.
Customs reminded traders to comply with the requirements of the ordinance, and consumers to buy services at reputable shops.