Hong Kong and Mainland police have jointly cracked up two cross-boundary and organised fraud syndicates, and the Mainland police earlier discovered a naked chat scam operation centre in the Mainland, mainly targeting victims from overseas, including Hong Kong. The Hong Kong Police launched an investigation and found that the Mainland group was facilitated by a local fraud syndicate, and revealed that the group was involved in at least 11 various online fraud cases since November last year, involving more than HK$149 million and laundering at least over $6 million.
Yesterday, the police of the two places launched a joint arrest operation for two consecutive days, arresting 800 mainlanders and 3 locals, including the main brain and key members.

The Hong Kong Police collaborated with the Mainland Police to crack a Mainland Chat Chat Scam Syndicate, as well as a local fraud syndicate, seizing a large number of bank ATM cards, mobile phones, mobile phone prepaid cards, computers and luxury watches. (Photo by Chen Haoran)

The Mainland Chat Scam Group involved mainly contacted victims overseas, including Hong Kong, through different online booking platforms, claiming that they could provide naked chat or aid, and then asked the victims to deposit money into different local puppet accounts under different pretexts, including blackmail, assisting in raising sales to earn remuneration, paying administrative fees to inherit inheritances or receiving valuable gifts, etc., and then the Hong Kong fraud syndicates manipulated the puppet accounts to launder money, and they would convert part of the money into virtual currency and remit them overseas to avoid detection. Superintendent Tam Wai-shing, Cyber Security and Technology Crime Bureau, said that the Police found that the money laundering syndicate was involved in a variety of other scams involving local victims with extortion phone numbers contacted by fraudsters, and found that the money laundering syndicate was involved in a variety of other scams, so they took joint action with the Mainland Police.

The Mainland Police collaborated with the Cyber Security and Technology Crime Bureau of the Hong Kong Police Force to target the operation centres of the Mainland Naked Chat Fraud Syndicate, the masterminds of the Hong Kong Fraud Syndicate, the key members of the Gopuppet Account Manipulation, the Proxy Account Holders, and the Telephone Prepaid Card Registrants. Among them, the Hong Kong Group was involved in at least 149 online fraud cases, of which online shopping fraud was the most common, reaching 40 cases; Naked chat scam cases accounted for 14 cases; There were also investment, job search, aid, online games and online romance scams, involving a total of $6.820 million. The 157 victims ranged in age from 13 to 79, of which 5 cases involved victims under the age of 18.

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In one of the largest losses involving over $1 million, the fraudster approached a 000-year-old local male victim through a mobile messaging app, claiming that he could introduce other women to him, and the victim downloaded other malicious apps of unknown origin as instructed and was asked to buy point cards to meet the woman. He made 54 transfers totalling $49 million to different accounts via FPS and bank transfers, and finally exposed the fraud because he could not pay more.

In an online gaming scam involving the youngest victim, who was only 13 years old, the girl wanted to sell her game account on social media, but after the scammer contacted her, she asked the girl to count to the fraudster's account under different pretexts, and the girl ended up losing $2,300 in pocket money.

Police of the two places launched a joint arrest operation codenamed "Mengshi" yesterday and today (29 and 30 November), dismantling the two cross-boundary and organised groups. Among them, the Hong Kong Police arrested a total of 10 men and 2 women, aged between 18 and 57, in various residential units in Hong Kong on suspicion of "conspiracy to defraud" and "money laundering" respectively, including 5 leaders and key members of local fraud syndicates, responsible for contacting Mainland syndicates, laundering money, controlling puppet accounts, as well as 6 puppet account holders and a telephone stored value card registrant, all of whom are being detained.

The Group is suspected of using different IP addresses to access the Internet in different locations to manipulate more than 1 puppet accounts to launder money, and some members will take about 84% of the laundered money as remuneration; Some people are also suspected of helping others to open a puppet phone number to register accounts on different payment and social media platforms, and even call victims to extort payment. During the operation, a total of 31 bank ATM cards, 34 mobile phones, 6 mobile stored value cards, <> handheld or tablet computers and two luxury watches were seized.

At the same time, the Mainland Police broke down the operation centre of the Naked Chat Scam Group in the Mainland and arrested five male members of the Mainland aged between 5 and 21, including the mastermind. The arrested persons were mainly responsible for contacting and blackmailing victims, writing naked chat materials, and acting as technical support personnel. The Mainland Police also returned 28 computers and 8 mobile phones to the operation centre.

For naked chat scams, the police found that scammers often ask victims to download a phone app of unknown origin, or enter a website, and the program will ask victims to provide phone books, photo albums, cameras, geolocation and other permissions, so that fraudsters can obtain more personal information of victims for blackmail.

Police remind members of the public not to download or provide permission to any phone app of unknown origin, nor to click on links from unknown sources; If extorted by scammers, payment should not be made. If in doubt, you can call the Police 24-hour anti-deception hotline 18222 or use the "anti-deception server" to assess the risks of relevant social media platforms or bank accounts, phone numbers, etc. Since October last year, more than 10 million searches have been recorded for the "Anti-Deception Device" and "Anti-Deception App", and nearly 100% of the search results are related to deception cases confirmed by the Police.

Chief Inspector of the Technology Crime Unit of the Cyber Security and Technology Crime Bureau (from left), Superintendent Tam Wai-shing and Senior Inspector of the Cyber Intelligence Unit, Ng Pak-wai. (Photo by Chen Haoran)

The Police pointed out that under the Crimes Ordinance, any person found guilty of conspiracy to commit fraud under common law is liable to up to 14 years' imprisonment; Under the Organized and Serious Crimes Ordinance, any person who knows or has reasonable grounds to believe that any property, in whole or in part, directly or indirectly represents any proceeds from an indictable offence, still disposes of that property and is punishable by a fine of $500 million and imprisonment for 14 years. In addition, under the real-name system of telephone cards, individual users can register no more than 10 stored value cards with each telecommunications provider, and according to the existing legislation, if they knowingly buy or sell telephone cards, or knowingly assist others to register telephone cards for illegal purposes, they may commit aid, abet, or conspiracy to commit the offence.