A key member of a currency exchange gang involved in at least 11 fraud cases totalling about 2.32 million yuan (MOP 2.80 million) was arrested on Friday, Judiciary Police (PJ) spokesman Lai Chio Hong said at a special press conference on Saturday.
The suspect is a 29-year-old male surnamed Cui. Lai said the Judiciary Police have been investigating two currency exchange fraud cases since last year and identified several members of the gang.
According to Lai, the Public Security Police (PSP) referred a case to the Judiciary Police on 30 August last year. A male victim told the police that he had been cheated out of 275,700 yuan by a currency exchange gang. He told the police that he struck a deal with the gang in a hotel guestroom in Cotai to exchange 275,700 yuan into HK$300,000 in cash. However, after transferring the yuan into a bank account, the gang refused to hand over the cash. After the victim had reported the case, the police arrested a suspect who told the police that he had been hired by Cui to come to Macao to work as a currency exchange trader.
According to Lai, PJ officers identified Cui and several other suspected members of the gang, and discovered that the gang was involved in another money exchange fraud case using so-called practice banknotes on 27 October last year. The victim told the police that after he had transferred 50,000 yuan to a bank account a member of the gang gave him practice banknotes. The victim immediately found out that they were not genuine banknotes. The police later discovered that the bank account was Cui’s.
A practice note is generally similar in size, shape and colour to circulating banknotes and are used for training bank tellers, cashiers and staff at currency exchanges. Practice notes, which are a kind of specimen banknote, are not legal tender.
According to Lai, Cui was arrested on Friday when he entered Macao via the Barrier Gate checkpoint. Cui denied committing the crime and claimed to have received instructions from the “currency exchange group” to bring HK$300,000 and six HK$10,000 casino cash chips to Macao for exchange transactions. He also claimed that he gave his bank account number to someone in October for money transfer purposes only.
Lai said that PJ officers seized an ATM card, 301 HK$1,000 practice notes and six bogus chips from Cui. At the time of the press conference, at least six of the gang were still on the run, according to Lai.
Cui was transferred to the Public Prosecutions Office (MP) on Saturday, facing charges of counterfeit currency transfer, organised crime and fraud involving a considerable amount, officially defined as exceeding MOP 150,000, according to Lai.
(The Macau Post Daily/Macau News)
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