A young sales clerk urgently in need of money joined an “earn quick money” scheme and ended up having to pay nearly HK$400,000 in loans, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
The victim, named Mandy, joined the investment scheme after she saw its advertisement on Instagram because she needed the money for a family member’s surgery and to pay her credit card bills.
According to the ad, an investor, by securing loans from finance companies, could earn 30 percent of the borrowed amount in no time at all.
On July 10, Mandy contacted the resource person on the ad, named Ryan, who asked her to borrow HK$200,000 under her name so that he could invest the money for her.
Ryan said she would receive a reward of HK$60,000 in two to three days, and his company would help her pay the loan.
Mandy agreed to join the scheme and made loans totaling HK$250,000 from four finance companies under her name on July 13 and 14, accompanied by Ryan’s colleague named Kelvin.
Kelvin then required her to use her credit card to buy jewelry worth around HK$60,000, which he later took with him.
Mandy asked him when she would receive her reward, but Kelvin demanded that she make another loan of HK$200,000.
It was only then that Mandy started suspecting it was a scam and reported to the police on July 24.
She also sought help from online discussion forums, where a man claiming to be a lawyer told her she allegedly had been involved in money laundering and warned her not to report to the police, otherwise she would go to jail.
Later, the “lawyer” said he was able to get in touch with Kelvin and asked him to return half of the money to her.
All in all, she had lost nearly HK$400,000 to the scheme, including the principal and interests she had to pay back to the finance companies.
Democratic Party lawmaker Andrew Wan Siu-kin, who is now assisting Mandy in the case, suspects that she has been victimized by so-called financial intermediaries who have “mutated” into an organized group engaged in deceiving people through investment schemes that promise huge returns.
Wan doubted if the police had waged any serious campaign to go after the people behind these scams, such as by conducting entrapment operations.
Police said they have been doing online monitoring and enforcement from time to time to go after such scams, and urged people to immediately report suspicious activities on the internet.
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