Macau police nab 23 for UnionPay fraud

The Judiciary Police (PJ) arrested on Thursday 23 suspects for their alleged involvement in the illegal use of UnionPay cards by conducting bogus cash transactions so that clients could get cash after swiping their cards on POS (points of sale) machines.

The police also busted a shop in Taipa which allegedly served as a workshop that modified POS machines smuggled from the mainland, so that they could be used in Macau.

According to the Judiciary Police, 40 PJ officers, in collaboration with five officials from the Macau Monetary Authority (AMCM), searched 13 shops in Zape, Taipa and Cotai and found that eight shops were involved in the illegal use of UnionPay cards by providing bogus cash transactions for clients.

The Judiciary Police briefed reporters on Thursday afternoon in in Taipa Village, where several shops were allegedly involved in the scam.

Speaking to reporters at the scene, Mark Sou Sio Keong, who heads IT Crimes Division of the Judiciary Police, said that Thursday’s action was taken after the police received various tip-offs and had suspected cases transferred to them by the Macau Monetary Authority.

According to Sou, nine of the 23 arrested are locals and 14 are mainlanders – 12 men and 11 women. They include people-in-charge, staff members who swiped UnionPay cards with the purpose of giving the clients cash and those who looked for clients in casinos who needed cash.

Sou said PJ officers found 10 such modified POS machines in the 8 shops.

According to Sou, when a POS machine is used in the mainland, the maximum handling charge is 26 yuan, no matter how large the transaction.

When a local shop uses a POS machine from a local bank, the handling fee is 1.5 per cent of the amount of the transaction, Sou pointed out.

According to Sou, with the modified POS machines smuggled from the mainland, they could be used in Macau, but only a 26 yuan handling fee was charged. Therefore, the shops illegally benefitted by charging the clients that used their UnionPay cards for illegal cash transactions a percentage of the money swapped.

Sou said that PJ officers also seized HK$7.5 million in cash, a large quantity of card receipts, and several account books.

According to Sou, PJ officers found that there was a workshop in a jewellery shop in Taipa, where POS machines smuggled from the mainland were being modified, and then sold to other shops.

Sou said the 23 suspects would be transferred to the Public Prosecution Office (MP) for possible arraignments on computer fraud and criminal organisation charges.
(Macau News / The Macau Post Daily)