Police in Hong Kong have arrested 12 men and two women who they believe are responsible for running a gold scam in the Chinese special territory.
The accused are reported to have defrauded seven people for approximately $80 million, with around $74 million of the money coming from one individual – an 85-year-old man. The 14 arrests were made after a month-long investigation following the man’s complaints and suspicions that he had been investing with a fake firm.
The scam involved clients being contacted by cold calls or messages on a variety of social media sites. The fraudsters would then befriend the victims, and convince them of their legitimacy and authority, before pressing on and encouraging the ‘investors’ to hand over cash for investment on the London commodities market for gold and other assets. Inevitably these fake investments failed.
The 85-year-old retiree, having invested the largest sums of cash, became suspicious following his consistent losses from investing. According to the South China Morning Post, who broke the story, the victims came from a variety of countries including Hong Kong itself, the USA and Canada, Taiwan, and Australia and New Zealand.
The 14 people arrested are aged between 20 and 72 and local police seized a range of documents, computers, smartphones, as well freezing bank accounts – accounts containing around $28 million according to officials.
The news comes days after another gold scam was halted in Singapore, with three people having been arrested for fraudulent trading. The Gold Label, an investment bullion firm in the country, was selling gold bars at a much higher premium than industry levels, as well as promising investors sizeable returns annually and a buyback guarantee of their initial purchase price. Creditors closed the company down last year after failing to honour its obligations, with two of the company’s directors charged last October. The third was finally arrested in Malaysia last Friday and will be returned to Singapore for trial, facing up to seven years imprisonment.