27 October 2016
Police seize equipment, documents and controlled anesthetics (left) from the beauty salon owned by Rita Chiu (right). Photos: RTHK,
Police seize equipment, documents and controlled anesthetics (left) from the beauty salon owned by Rita Chiu (right). Photos: RTHK,

Beauty salon owner held on fraud charge after two customers die

The owner of a Causeway Bay beauty salon has been arrested after police received reports that she swindled customers by giving bogus treatments, which allegedly caused the death of two of them.

Police and staff from the Department of Health jointly raided two unregistered businesses — the salon and a healthcare consulting firm – on Pennington Street Wednesday and seized equipment, documents and controlled anesthetics., Apple Daily reported Thursday.

Rita Chiu Suk-yee, 54, who says she has a doctoral degree, and 10 female employees aged between 30 and 68 were arrested on charges of conspiracy to defraud.

Police began their investigation in February after seven people filed reports accusing Chiu of conning them out of a combined HK$5 million (US$644,000) by claiming that her “brain activation” therapy can cure cancer, skin disease, depression and other ailments.

They each paid between HK$200,000 and HK$1.2 million as fees to receive the “magical” therapy, which included oxygen inhalation and infrared light treatment as well as requiring them to tie magnets onto their bodies to “activate” their brains and kill cancer cells, acting Chief Inspector Cheng Yat-pang of Wan Chai police district said.

Chiu asked the customers to sign a declaration that they would not receive other treatments or take any western or Chinese medicine, police said.

Two people — a woman who suffered from acute blood cancer and a man with pancreatic cancer — died after receiving treatment at the salon.

Their family members felt cheated and filed police reports, together with other customers, after the salon refused to give them refunds.

Investigations reveal that Chiu, who was declared bankrupt in 2012, had promoted the therapy in the past through seminars held at churches and universities, claiming it can work miracles, with no medicine or surgery required.

Cheng said the investigation will continue to see whether any one was involved in the illegal practice of medicine.

Civic Party legislator Kwok Ka-ki, who is a medical doctor, said it might be difficult to prove that the suspects were involved in any medical procedures.

Kwok said it is worrisome that there are no laws in Hong Kong to regulate “alternative medical treatments” such as Chiu’s therapy or the beauty industry.

He urged the government to introduce legislation to fill the regulatory loopholes.

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