A total of 23 men and seven women were arrested on Sunday for their alleged involvement in the illegal use of bank cards by conducting bogus cash transactions so that clients could get cash after swiping their cards on tampered-with POS (points of sale) machines in Macao, Judiciary Police (PJ) spokesman Cheong Kam Fai said at a special press conference on Tuesday.
According to Cheong, the case involves 11.6 billion yuan (MOP 14.2 billion) and 69 million yuan in ill-gotten gains.
According to Cheong, 12 of the 30 arrested are locals aged between 22 and 72 and 18 are mainlanders aged between 21 and 56.
The 12 local suspects include eight key members and the gang’s male kingpin surnamed Vong. Their stated occupations include a businessman, a currency exchange dealer, a self-employed person, three salespersons and four jobless residents. The two other locals suspects are a jewellery shop employee and a construction sector businessman. Most of the 18 mainlanders hold Macao-issued non-resident worker permits (informally known as “blue cards”), and their occupations include salespersons, pawnshop employees and sales assistants.
According to Cheong, under the coordination of the Ministry of Public Security and the Police Liaison Division of the Liaison Office of the Central People’s Government in the Macao Special Administrative Region (MSAR), the Judiciary Police exchanged intelligence with the Public Security Bureau in Jiangsu province about the case.
Jiangsu lies some 1,360 kilometres north-east of Macao.
Cheong said the two police forces jointly gathered information on a cross-border gang engaging in fraudulent activities operating in the mainland and Macao. The gang made use of modified POS machines to cheat mainland banks by pretending that the cardholders had used their cards in the mainland but, in fact, their cards were swiped in Macao, which enabled their holders to get cash during their stay here. The gang defrauded the considerable difference of bank service fees between the mainland and Macao.
Upon investigation, the police discovered that the gang’s kingpin was a Macao resident surnamed Vong, who is in his seventies. Vong, who told the police that he is jobless, operated the gang “like a family” and arranged key members to set up shops in Macao, and then handed the business to other members to run, according to Cheong.
The gang also arranged for members in the mainland to apply for POS machines and bank cards, and smuggle them to Macao after modifying the machines. They then looked for customers outside casinos and persuaded them to have their cards swiped to get cash.
According to Cheong, the police in Guangdong, Fujian and Jiangsu, together with the Judiciary Police, took coordinated action on Sunday in their respective jurisdictions. The Judiciary Police deployed 110 officers to search and collect evidence from 12 shops, 19 residential flats and two company premises.
Cheong said the officers arrested 30 suspects and seized more than HK$8.84 million, 59,000 yuan and MOP 720,000 in cash as well as casino cash chips worth about HK$1.26 million, electronic equipment such as computers and USB sticks, and different kinds of bank cards and POS machines.
The bank cards shown during Tuesday’s press conference by the Judiciary Police included ATM, debit and credit cards issued by several mainland banks.
The mainland police simultaneously dispatched a total of 300 police officers and arrested 39 suspects, including five key members, and seized a large number of bank cards and POS machines.
According to Cheong, the Judiciary Police believe that the cross-border gang had been operating since 2016, involving 11.622 billion yuan in illegal transactions resulting in 69 million yuan in illegal earnings.
The 30 suspects were transferred to the Public Prosecutions Office (MP) on Tuesday, facing charges of organised crime and computer fraud, according to Cheong.