A mainlander was arrested last Wednesday for cheating five investors out of HK$10 million (MOP 10.3 million) in an investment scam, Judiciary Police (PJ) spokesman Leng Kam Lon said at a regular press conference on Monday.
The 32-year-old male suspect surnamed Li told the police that he is self-employed.
According to Leng, four females and a male, comprising two locals and three mainlanders, aged between 38 and 52, went to a police station on 29 August 2019 to report that they had been defrauded by an investment group out of the equivalent of HK$10 million.
The five victims told the police that they got to know a key member of the investment group through the internet in 2018. The member claimed that he was running a jade jewellery business in the mainland and a VIP room in Cotai. The key member and a woman convinced the quintet to invest in a programme which would enable them to earn a 14-per cent monthly interest on their investment.
The victims said that the group also offered its investors extra dividends if they introduced new investors to the group and they could use the points in their accounts to redeem money from the VIP room to gamble there.
According to Leng, the victims told the police that the group provided a smartphone app for them to open an account which enabled each of them to log into their accounts and check their investments. They told the police that their investments took place between late 2018 and early 2019. Leng said each investor had invested between hundreds of thousands of yuan and RMB 5.5 million (MOP 6.8 million).
Leng said that the victims told the police that according to their online account records uploaded to the smartphone app their investments were increasing during the period.
However, when the victims wanted to withdraw their money between June and July 2019, they discovered that the smartphone app was malfunctioning and they were no longer able to log into their accounts. The group kept delaying the repayments, and the five investors finally lost contact with the group in August 2019.
Afterwards, the victims discovered that the jade jewellery company and the VIP room had been closed down. The victims suspected that they had been defrauded and reported the case to the police.
According to Leng, PJ officers identified Li, who had been running the VIP room, as the suspect. Li is the son of the group’s key member who had convinced the five victims to invest in the scheme. Li was arrested at the Barrier Gate checkpoint upon return from the mainland last Wednesday.
Under questioning, Li refused to cooperate with the police. He confirmed that he had been in charge of the VIP room but claimed that he had no knowledge of the fraud. However, according to the police investigation, the Judiciary Police believe that Li is involved in the fraud case as he had been managing and operating both the jade jewellery business and the VIP room. Leng said the Judiciary Police were continuing their investigation to trace at least two other suspects who were on the run at the time of the press conference.
Li was transferred to the Public Prosecutions Office (MP) last Thursday, facing charges of organised crime and fraud involving a considerable amount, officially defined as exceeding MOP 150,000, according to Leng.