Date
22 September 2019
Police display Chinese banknotes, documents and mobile phones seized during a months-long operation against a fraudulent bullion investment syndicate. Photo: RTHK News video/ screenshot
Police display Chinese banknotes, documents and mobile phones seized during a months-long operation against a fraudulent bullion investment syndicate. Photo: RTHK News video/ screenshot

Fourteen arrested over mega gold trading scam

A total of fourteen people have been arrested in the past three months in relation to a multi-million dollar gold trading scam, Hong Kong authorities announced on Thursday.

A fraud syndicate cheated at least seven investors out of a total of HK$629 million by making false claims about gold trading on the London market, according to the police.

Victims were lured into thinking their money was being used for bullion trades, generating high returns, before they could realize it was all a big con.

The arrested suspects included 12 men and two women, aged between 20 and 72, who are from Hong Kong, mainland China and Singapore, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.

The 14 suspects were arrested for “Conspiracy to Defraud” involving a sum of over HK$ 600 million.

Some of them were believed to be masterminds of the scam syndicate, while the rest were self-claimed investment consultants.

According to Chief Inspector Wilson Tam Wai-shun of the police’s Kowloon East regional crime unit, an investigation was launched after a man launched a complaint in October last year, saying he was swindled out of money in a suspected Loco London Gold scam.

After in-depth investigation, it was found that a syndicate had hired young people as consultants to seek victims through cold calls or social media platforms.

Once the victims were lured by the claimed high investment returns, the fake agents would then persuade them to sign a contract, authorizing the company concerned to transact London gold, trading of which is not regulated in Hong Kong, on their behalf.

The syndicate also offered other precious metals for investment besides gold.

After gathering sufficient information, police arrested six men and one woman between November and early January in an exercise targeting the syndicate.

Another seven people were apprehended in several different districts early Tuesday morning, and the Anti-Deception Coordination Centre helped freeze more than HK$220 million in multiple bank accounts held by the syndicate.

Police believe it is the largest gold trading scam to have been busted in Hong Kong. Apart from Hongkongers, the victims included people from Taiwan, Australia, New Zealand and Canada.

The investigation will continue, police said, not ruling out the possibility that more people could be arrested in connection with the case.

– Contact us at [email protected]

TL/JC/RC