Police crackdown on fraud, arresting 1,121 in HK$2.2 billion scheme, including Mainland recruits for money laundering in HK

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Acting Senior Superintendent Chow Cheung-yau

12th April 2024 – (Hong Kong) Hong Kong police have arrested 1,121 individuals aged between 14 and 89 years old in a three-week operation code-named “Operation Attackplan”. The suspects are connected to 952 cases of online fraud, totalling an astonishing HK$2.2 billion in stolen funds.

The operation, which ran from 25th March to 11th April, targeted three major fraud syndicates known for their sophisticated methods of operation. These groups, collaborating with mainland Chinese recruiters, lured individuals to Hong Kong to open bank accounts used for laundering the proceeds of these scams through cash withdrawals and cryptocurrency conversions.

Acting Senior Superintendent Chow Cheung-yau of the Financial Investigation Division highlighted the complexity of the crimes. “The groups recruited ‘mules’ in mainland China, providing them with accommodation in Hong Kong and guiding them through the process of laundering money,” Chow explained. He revealed that at least 45 bank accounts were used in these operations to launder approximately HK$239 million, with some funds linked to telephone and investment scams totalling HK$25 million.

These criminal activities come against the backdrop of a significant rise in fraud cases in Hong Kong. Last year alone, police received 39,824 reports of fraud, resulting in losses of HK$91.8 billion, with online crimes accounting for 70% of these incidents. The predominant types of fraud included online shopping scams, investment schemes, phishing, and employment fraud.

The recent arrests include eight men from mainland China and a local woman, ranging in age from 29 to 48. Among them were three leaders and five key members of the syndicates, involved in roles as varied as tour guides and salespeople. This syndicate alone is believed to be behind a substantial portion of the laundered funds.