Police say 32 arrested in HK$55m loan fraud

Police said on Sunday that they have arrested 32 people from a syndicate with triad links that allegedly cheated around 500 victims out of approximately HK$55 million in loan fraud.

The force said the victims, aged 20 to 81, suffered losses of between HK$3,000 and HK$1.85 million each. They were cold-called by the suspects to help them secure low-interest loans and loans under the government’s 100% Personal Loan Guarantee Scheme.

Officers said the suspects ran fake websites and posed as staff of banks and finance companies.

In a two-day operation last week, officers raided three calling centres located at Hung Hom, Tsuen Wan and Cheung Sha Wan.

Yip Wing-lam, superintendent from the Commercial Crime Bureau, said they seized 142 phones and cold-call scripts in the three centres.

“They use cold calls to call victims, pretend to be staff of prominent banks. And then, if victims are interested, they will refer potential victims to other syndicate members and induce them to apply for loans,” he said.

Those who were interested were then asked to pay 10 percent of the value of the loan as guarantee, totalling more than HK$52 million.

Or Wing-yan, chief inspector from the bureau, believed the centres have been running since March last year.

“The syndicate frequently changed the name of their websites and company, as well as the location of their calling centres. So we have been investigating for a period of time before identifying the mastermind,” she said.

Police said the syndicate was also involved in using fake personal information to apply for loans under the 100% Personal Loan Guarantee Scheme to the tune of HK$2.8 million.