Fraud and Money Laundering Cases in Hong Kong – Police Arrest 84 Suspects
October 24, 2023
Hong Kong Police has arrested 84 people suspected of being involved in 53 fraud and money laundering cases encompassing HK$118 million, as reported by South China Morning Post.
The Police Force, in their statement on Monday, revealed that the suspects rounded up in a three-week operation in Sham Shui Po included 71 men and 13 women, ranging in age from 16 to 68, and those arrested had ties to cases affecting 131 victims.
It appears that most people allow unauthorized lending or buying of bank accounts which can lead to fraudulent and money laundering activities.
Chief Inspector Cheng Ki-Fung, head of the district’s crime division, warned the people of Hong Kong to abstain from authorizing anyone to use their bank for unlawful activities in response to the money laundering crackdown.
Reportedly, he stated, “Residents should not rent, lend or buy bank accounts, as such actions committed in the handling of crime proceeds, even if the owner did not control the account in practice, could still violate money laundering laws in the city”.
Money laundering scams involved in HK$118 million
Inspector Wong Sze-ki, who serves in the district’s technology and financial crime squad, revealed that the majority of 84 arrestees had allegedly permitted their bank accounts to a criminal syndicate in order to facilitate money laundering.
Various account holders acquired amounts between HK$2,000 and HK$2 million sourced from a total of HK$118 million in criminal activities like investments, scams, fake romantic ploys, deceitful job offers, and deceptive encounters conducted via phones and in-person interactions.
Many people become victims of phone fraud, where scammers may pose as legitimate organizations and government agencies, and call individuals asking for personal information to steal money.
In June, a 41-year-old housewife experienced a substantial financial loss of HK$60 million, when a scammer pretending to be a security officer from mainland China, contacted her by phone.
After receiving reports from several victims, the police force initiated an inquiry ultimately resulting in the arrest of three other men believed to be involved in gathering illicit gains from the crimes.
Additionally, the police unveiled a group of seven people, aged between 18 to 58, who were suspected of being engaged in a single instance of money laundering along with five instances of phone fraud and two incidents of street scams.
The police force in Hong Kong is taking measures to reduce the proceedings of ongoing fraud and money laundering activities.
Moreover, Chief Inspector Cheng also expressed optimism about the force’s ability to keep cracking down on fraud cases, citing his team’s efforts to apprehend people involved in the unauthorized lending of their bank accounts.
Apart from the above money laundering scandal, Hong Kong is also investigating JPEX, a crypto exchange platform, involved in the money laundering worth more than $192.7 million. According to a Bitrace report, the connection of Tether tokens in online wallets with JPEX with money laundering and online gambling has prompted concerns about the contamination of these tokens.
Increased Crack Down on Money Laundering Activities in South East Asia Countries
It appears that global financial hubs located in South East Asia are becoming more active against financial crime including money laundering and fraud.
Singapore’s financial institutions were reported to be involved in billion-dollar money laundering.
In August 2023, Singapore police took custody of 10 foreign nationals, aged between 31-34 involved in the country’s money laundering scandal. This scandal led to the forfeiture of approximately $2 billion and the confiscation of expensive belongings such as Patek Philippe watches, Hermes handbags, aged Macallan whisky, and Bentley and Rolls-Royce automobiles.
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