A Hong Kong fraud syndicate was arrested last week after scamming victims out of HKD4 million over almost two years.
The 11 fraudsters spun a story of “money men” from mainland China and Macau looking to channel funds into Hong Kong, the South China Morning Post reported.
Hong Kong police underwent a month-long operation called “Jetblast,” seizing HKD1.4 million worth of items ranging from cars and phones to luxury clothes and handbags.
“We have successfully dissolved an online investment fraud syndicate. […] Police arrested four ringleaders including two involved in romance scams, two in charge of investment fraud, two bank account holders and others,” said acting chief inspector Billy Ho Yiu-chung of the New Territories North Region squad.
The syndicate’s scams typically targeted men by creating fake social media accounts featuring pictures of attractive women to lure their victims.
“The scammers will use social media platforms or apps and open new accounts using seductive photographs as profile pictures to draw in male victims,” Ho said.
“Once they build up rapport and are able to establish trust, they will recommend an ‘investment expert’ to them.”
The so-called ‘financial experts’ would then persuade the victims to transfer their savings or take out loans to put into high-return investment products.
In Hong Kong, there have already been 463 such cases of online financial fraud this year, with losses valued at HKD400 million during the first three quarters – significantly higher than that of last year.