Three men and a woman were arrested this week for using fake casino cash chips to defraud three men out of HK$4.9 million (MOP 5.05 million), Judiciary Police (PJ) spokesman Mark Sou Sio Keong said at a special press conference on Wednesday.
The four suspects are a 38-year-old jobless local woman surnamed Lok; a 27-year-old jobless local man surnamed Che; a 38-year-old male mainlander surnamed Ling who told the police that he works as a driver; and a 31-year-old male mainlander surnamed Shen who, according to Sou, worked as an illegal currency exchange dealer until his arrest.
According to Sou, three local men along with three of the suspects (Lok, Ling and Shen) went to a police station on Monday. The local trio told the police that they had been defrauded out of HK$4.9 million by the three suspects. The first victim told the police that he wanted to repay debts of HK$5 million to a local casino VIP room and heard from his friend (the second victim) who works in the casino that Lok was able to exchange HK$4.9 million in cash into casino cash chips worth HK$5 million.
As the first victim had only HK$4 million cash with him, he asked his two friends (the second and third victims) to lend him HK$200,000 and HK$700,000 respectively. The three victims took the HK$4.9 million in cash with them and met Lok and Ling in a car in Areia Preta on Monday afternoon. Ling suddenly told the three victims that the deal must be settled in yuan so he asked Shen to meet them so that he could exchange the HK$4.9 million into yuan for them.
Shen then gave the cash to an accomplice who took the money to assist him in exchanging the HK$4.9 million into 4.02 million yuan. The accomplice transferred the yuan in two tranches to a bank account in the mainland. After the first transfer, Lok gave 20 HK$100,000 chips to the victims who then asked a friend to come to the scene to take the chips to the VIP room to repay part of the debts, Sou said.
After their friend had given the cash chips to the VIP room, the casino staff later found out that the chips were counterfeits. Their friend immediately called the three victims to inform them about it when the second transfer had just been completed. At that time, the three suspects gave the remaining 30 – bogus – chips to the victims, Sou said.
According to Sou, the three victims then took Lok, Ling and Shen to a police station and reported the case. The victims gave the 30 chips to the Judiciary Police who confirmed that the chips were fakes.
The three suspects denied any wrongdoing and refused to cooperate with the police. PJ officers seized HK$125,000 in cash from Lok.
Thanks to CCTV footage and the suspects’ text messages on their smartphones, the police believe that the suspects worked as a team and had their own roles to play. Sou said the suspects suddenly asking the victims to exchange the Hong Kong dollar cash into yuan was just part of their strategy to delay the deal and to distract the victims’ attention.
The Judiciary Police discovered that there were other possible suspects involved in the case and they arrested Che when he entered Macao via the Macao-Zhuhai Cross-Border Industrial Zone checkpoint in Ilha Verde on Tuesday morning. PJ officers seized HK$18,000 from Che’s home.
Sou said the fake chips are high-quality counterfeits and therefore difficult to detect. The Judiciary Police are continuing their investigation to look for other suspects who were on the run at the time of the press conference, as well as the whereabouts of the money, according to Sou.
The quartet were transferred to the Public Prosecutions Office (MP) on Wednesday, facing charges of fraud involving a considerable amount, officially defined as exceeding MOP 150,000, according to Sou.
(The Macau Post Daily/Macao News)
Photo by The Macau Post Daily/Iong Tat Choi