Three locals comprising a married couple and a second man, including the suspected kingpin, were arrested on Wednesday for cheating four local women aged between 20 to 30 out of MOP 1.43 million (US$180,000), Judiciary Police (PJ) spokesman Lai Man Vai said during a special conference on Thursday.
Lai said that the police seized HK$3.8 million from the trio.
The three suspects are the suspected leader of the gang, a 32-year-old man surnamed Wong, who told the police that he’s a construction worker and that his 31-year-old wife surnamed Pun works as a saleswoman. The third suspect is a 35-year-old man surnamed Ma who said that he’s unemployed.
Lai described the case as a so-called “game of killing pigs”, which evolved from typical online dating frauds.
Lai said the gang’s tactics was well thought out, in order to gain the victims’ goodwill and trust through “online dating” first, after which the plot thickened step by step. The suspects introduced online gambling to the victims and let them win some money at the beginning. Later, the suspects told the victims that they were able to find flaws in online gambling programmes enabling them to “win big money”, as a ruse to convince the victims to transfer large sums of money to the gang’s accounts “to win even more”.
Later the victims were unable to withdraw the money they had transferred to the accounts or the purported winnings, and could no longer contact the suspects.
According to Lai, two of the victims finally contacted the Judiciary Police. The ensuing investigation discovered that the three suspects were involved in at least four online fraud cases, and the police contacted the two other victims.
The four victims lost a total of more than MOP 1.43 million, and the police suspect that there are more victims, urging them to contact the police as soon as possible. Lai said that one of the victims lost MOP 1.05 million. The other victims lost 290,000 patacas, 11,000 patacas and 80,000 patacas respectively.
Lai said the three suspects transferred the ill-gotten money to several VIP room accounts, and asked other people to assist in the withdrawing and transferring of the money to other accounts. The police seized HK$3.8 million from the accounts and are investigating a shop owned by one of the suspects to find out whether it was involved in the fraud.
The trio were transferred to the Public Prosecution Office (MP) on Thursday, facing charges of money laundering and fraud involving a considerable amount, officially defined as exceeding 150,000 patacas, according to Lai.