28 victims duped of HK$25 million in Macao investment scam

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23rd September 2023 – (Macao) Seven individuals, aged between 26 and 34, have been arrested in Macao in connection with an investment fraud case. Among the arrested, five were employed as insurance brokers. Law enforcement agencies suspect that individuals associated with the scam syndicate used Macao insurance policies to open multiple bank accounts for collecting fraudulent funds. To date, a total of 28 people have fallen victim to the scheme, with an estimated amount of HK$25 million involved. After the ill-gotten gains were deposited into 13 Macao bank accounts, they were swiftly transferred to numerous offshore accounts and subsequently withdrawn. The highest reported loss by an individual stands at around HK$8 million.

According to the investigation, the cross-border fraud syndicate operated from late August to early September. They advertised on social media platforms, enticing several Macao residents to join an investment group by claiming guaranteed profits in A-share investments. The victims were instructed by the group’s “assistants” to download specific investment software. Five individuals who filed complaints reportedly deposited hundreds of thousands to millions of Hong Kong dollars into 13 designated bank accounts. During the course of the scheme, the victims initially witnessed small withdrawals ranging from hundreds to thousands of dollars, fueling their belief in the legitimacy of the operation. As they became more entangled, they followed the “assistants’ ” instructions to invest more funds in “lottery-style” new stock offerings. However, they were unable to retrieve their principal amounts, leading them to seek assistance from the authorities. In response to the reports, law enforcement officials intercepted over HK$1 million in outgoing transactions, along with identifying an additional 23 potential victims.

Authorities revealed that they had previously apprehended a mainland Chinese man who had been hired by the criminal syndicate. This individual had received HK$9.5 million in fraudulent proceeds and was responsible for recruiting mainland residents to purchase insurance policies in Macau. He used this pretext to open bank accounts and collect the ill-gotten funds. The suspect collaborated with the syndicate’s insurance brokers to issue two policies, which were then used to open accounts at three Macau banks. After handing over the account information to his accomplices, he received a reward of HK$14,000. Law enforcement subsequently apprehended six additional individuals, including five insurance brokers, in various districts of Macao, Qingmao Port, and the Outer Harbour Ferry Terminal. These individuals were involved in facilitating the purchase of insurance policies for dozens of mainland Chinese residents and opening multiple bank accounts using a single policy. Some of them claimed to have had concerns about the legitimacy of the funds but chose to ignore them in pursuit of commissions. Their profits ranged from HK$20,000 to HK$70,000. Additionally, an unemployed man was responsible for withdrawing HK$230,000 from the syndicate’s account, which he then handed over to an unknown individual in the Macao Dynasty District, receiving a reward of HK$3,450.

This investment scam has caused significant financial losses for the victims, highlighting the importance of remaining cautious and vigilant when approached with lucrative investment opportunities. Authorities are urging the public to exercise prudence, conduct thorough research, and verify the legitimacy of investment schemes before parting with their hard-earned money.