Police from Hong Kong, Macau, Malaysia and Singapore mounted a joint operation and busted a transnational syndicate that swindled 139 ladies out of HK$34mil or US$4.34mil (RM18.10mil) in on-line romance scams, native police stated on Nov 28.
The three-day transnational police operation, code-named “Soarblaze”, led to the arrests of 39 individuals, together with three core figures of the racket. 13 of the syndicate members had been caught in Hong Kong.
A police supply stated the syndicate was primarily based in Malaysia and had been in operation since June final 12 months.
In line with police, the core figures – two males and one girl, aged between 33 and 49 – had been arrested in Malaysia.
The opposite 36 suspects – seven males and 29 ladies – had been arrested for cash laundering, after their financial institution accounts had been discovered to have been used to gather the swindled cash and launder the proceeds of the crime.
“The overall quantity the victims misplaced is about HK$34mil (RM18.12mil),” police stated in a press release.
Hong Kong police stated the rise within the variety of instances previously few years had prompted officers from the cybersecurity and know-how crime bureau to mount the joint operation.
Within the first 9 months of 2019, there have been 425 experiences of on-line romance scams by which swindlers bagged HK$156.6mil (RM83.47mil). This 12 months’s largest loser was a 53-year-old girl who was conned out of HK$28mil (RM14.92mil).
On-line romance swindlers duped 596 victims out HK$450mil (RM239.86mil) within the metropolis final 12 months. In 2017, 235 victims misplaced HK$109mil (RM58.10mil) in romance scams.
In 2016, there have been 114 such experiences involving HK$95mil (RM50.64mil), and in 2015, officers dealt with 52 experiences, which noticed scammers receiving HK$32.4mil (RM17.27mil).
Final 12 months, a 66-year-old businesswoman filed a police report after dropping about HK$180mil (RM95.95mil) – the largest quantity misplaced in a romance rip-off in Hong Kong – to an “engineer from Britain” over 4 years.
The town’s longest-running rip-off concerned a con artist who swindled a finance supervisor of HK$14mil (RM7.46mil) after posing as a British movie director. Their on-line relationship lasted eight years, and the sufferer by no means met the swindler in individual.
Romance scammers sometimes pose as male entrepreneurs, professionals or army veterans, and befriend potential victims via web platforms.
After establishing belief, the swindlers concoct causes to ask victims to ship cash to designated financial institution accounts. Police say the requests nearly all the time contain needing cash urgently to resolve an issue abroad.
In Hong Kong, acquiring property by deception carries a most penalty of 10 years in jail. The offence of cash laundering carries a most penalty of a 14-year imprisonment and a HK$5mil (RM2.66mil) high quality. – South China Morning Publish
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