A local man and a woman were arrested on Friday for cheating a local man out of over MOP 13 million (US$1.63 million) in an online credit-for-sex scam, according to a special press conference held by the Judiciary Police (PJ) on Saturday.
The suspects are a 27-year-old jobless woman surnamed Mak and a 31-year-old man surnamed Chan who told the police that he works as a chauffeur, PJ spokesman Chan Wun Man said at the press conference.
According to Chan, the victim surnamed Ng reported to the Judiciary Police on Friday that he met a female netizen through an online dating app in 2017. The woman said that she was providing sex for cash, asking him to purchase gift cards to pay for the sex service.
Ng told the police that he had purchased gift cards worth about MOP 5 million from local convenience stores since 2017, and forwarded the cards’ passwords and other information to the woman via his smartphone app. However, he never managed to meet her.
Afterwards, Ng received a string of calls from a man who claimed that he was the woman’s “manager”, telling him, among other things, that the woman was sick, that she had been arrested by the police for working as a prostitute and that she wanted to be released on bail. The “manager” urged the victim to pay more money to help the woman. He also asked him to use the Bitcoin cryptocurrency for the payments.
Ng subsequently went to Hong Kong to buy bitcoins in the middle of last year. After receiving a QR code provided by the woman, he went to a bitcoin vending machine in Hong Kong using the QR code to carry out the requested payments.
Ng told the police that even after he had purchased bitcoins worth over HK$7 million for the woman, he was still unable to meet her, according to Chan.
Chan said that due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, Ng could not go to Hong Kong to buy more bitcoins as the woman requested. However, her “manager” claimed that he could arrange for someone to travel to Macao to get the money from Ng, who would assist him to buy the bitcoins after receiving the cash.
According to Chan, Ng told the police that he met Mak and Chan on Thursday at the entrance of a casino in Nape, where he gave them HK$1.15 million to help him buy more bitcoins.
Ng said that the woman’s “manager” called him later that day and claimed that he was unable to purchase bitcoins, and therefore had handed over the money to a police station in Zape, urging him to go there to get his money back. Ng immediately went to the Public Security Police (PSP) station and asked for the HK$1.15 million. PSP officers suspected that Ng was the victim of a fraud case and passed it to the Judiciary Police (PJ) for investigation.
According to Chan, PJ officers quickly identified the two suspects. They arrested Chan at his home in Areia Preta district and Mak at the Barrier Gate checkpoint on Friday. Both refused to cooperate with the police. Chan said the police believe that the duo falsely claimed that they could help Ng buy bitcoins in Macao and that after receiving the Hong Kong dollars from Ng they transferred it elsewhere.
Chan said the police would continue to investigate the whereabouts of the money and whether more people were involved in the case.
The duo was transferred to the Public Prosecutions Office (MP) on Saturday, facing fraud and money laundering charges, according to Chan.