Two dozen helpers arrested over money laundering

Police said on Wednesday that they had arrested 29 people, including 24 foreign domestic workers, in connection with a suspected HK$27 million money laundering scheme.

The force said a syndicate used 35 bank accounts belonging to helpers to launder money obtained via 20 romance scams in the past year.

The police’s financial intelligence and investigation bureau said the scammers claimed on social media to be professionals from Europe, the United States or Southeast Asia and developed online relationships with the victims.

People were then conned into depositing money into the helpers’ bank accounts which were being controlled by the syndicate.

In one case, a woman was allegedly cheated out of HK$1.68 million by a scammer who claimed to be a computer technician from Cyprus. The fraudster told the woman he would come to Hong Kong to meet her, but they subsequently lost touch and the woman reported the matter to the police in January.

The helpers were paid up to several thousand dollars for letting the syndicate use their bank accounts, police alleged.

Acting Superintendent Tang Hoi-tung warned people not to sell or lend their bank accounts to others.