Two mainlanders were arrested on Monday for defrauding 23 pawnshops in Macao and Hong Kong out of HK$191,880 (US$24,800) by hocking counterfeit gold jewellery, Judiciary Police (PJ) spokesman Chan Wun Man said at a special press conference on Wednesday.
The two suspects are a 32-year-old man surnamed Lu, who told the police that he works as an insurance broker, and a 25-year-old jobless man surnamed Feng.
According to Chan, a pawnshop in Zape reported to the police last Saturday that a mainlander surnamed Kuan had pawned a “gold necklace” for HK$20,000 on the previous day. The pawnshop staff later discovered that the necklace is counterfeit and that they had mistakenly paid him an extra HK$9,000, incurring a total loss of HK$29,000. Chan said the pawnshop staff also discovered that Kuan had been to the shop earlier and pawned a “diamond ring” for HK$7,000 which they later also confirmed as a fake.
Chan said PJ officers discovered that the “real” Kuan had not entered Macao and so suspected that someone else – Lu – had been using his Exit-Entry Permit for Travelling to and from Hong Kong and Macao (informally known as “two-way permit”) with the intent to engage in criminal activities in Macao.
PJ officers later confirmed that Lu and Feng entered Macao again last Thursday when they checked into a hotel in Zape. PJ officers put them under surveillance and arrested the duo in their hotel room on Monday where they seized five “two-way permits” belonging to other people, including Kuan’s permit which Lu had used, as well as four fake gold necklaces.
The officers also discovered 39 photographs of receipts from a number of pawnshops stored in their smartphones, of which 36 belonged to 20 local pawnshops, while three belonged to Hong Kong pawnshops involving a total amount of HK$191,880. The officers subsequently contacted 15 local pawnshops and retrieved 25 pieces of bogus jewellery, involving a total of HK$165,000.
The Judiciary Police are continuing their investigation by contacting other pawnshops suspected of having been scammed by the duo, according to Chan.
Under questioning, the duo told the police that they had been hired by a male mainlander surnamed Dai to cheat pawnshops in Macao.
The fake jewellery and other people’s “two-way permits” were all provided by Dai, the duo claimed.
Lu told the police that he went to pawnshops at least six times to pawn 20 pieces of fake jewellery involving about HK$100,000, claiming that he received HK$30,000 as “remuneration”.
Feng told the police that he went to pawn shops at least three times and hocked seven pieces of fake jewellery involving HK$27,500, after which he received HK$1,800 from Dai, according to Chan.
Chan said the Judiciary Police have notified their mainland counterparts about the case to assist in hunting down other possible suspects.
Lu and Feng were transferred to the Public Prosecutions Office (MP) yesterday morning, facing fraud and use of other people’s identity documents, while Lu also faces a theft-by-finding charge, according to Chan.