16 credit card data scam gang members caught in Macau & HK

2021-05-05 03:44     Comment:0

A total of seven suspected members of two credit card data scam gangs including a student and two takeaway deliverymen were arrested in Macau on Monday, Judiciary Police (PJ) spokesman Chan Wun Man said at a special press conference yesterday.

In response to numerous cases of theft of credit card data that had been reported since last year, the Judiciary Police exchanged intelligence with their Hong Kong counterparts and carried out a joint investigation called Operation Soaring Star 2020. As a result of the operation, 37 suspected organised crime members were arrested in Hong Kong and Macau last October, according to Chan.

Chan said the Judiciary Police and the Hong Kong police again carried out a joint operation last month called “Soaring Star 2.0” to continue to combat the fraudulent use of credit card information for online shopping. The two police forces arrested this time a total of 16 suspects between April 21 and Monday. Among them, six men and a woman were arrested in Macau, while three men and six women were arrested in Hong Kong.

Chan said the two police forces believe that the suspects were members of at least two gangs.

According to Chan, one of the two gangs stole credit card information and used smartphone apps to buy goods.

The Judiciary Police arrested six local suspects aged between 22 and 32, comprising five men and a 22-year-old female student.

PJ officers arrested the six suspects separately at their homes on April 21. Under questioning, five suspects admitted to having been hired by “unknown persons” on social media apps. They obtained the stolen credit card information from the senior gang members, and then used the information to pay money into online smartphone games via the App Store platform.

The five suspects told the police that they received 30 yuan (37 patacas) for each successful transaction. One of the suspects refused to cooperate with the police, Chan said, adding that the Judiciary Police have confirmed that data for at least five local credit cards had been stolen which were used for online shopping worth 53,000 patacas.

The six suspects face charges of computer fraud, Chan said.

According to Chan, the Hong Kong police arrested three Hong Kong men and six women aged between 15 and 60 last week. The suspects used the stolen credit card information for online shopping via the App Store platform, involving about HK$94,800.

Meanwhile, the Judiciary Police arrested a 35-year-old jobless local man surnamed Tseong, for using stolen credit card information to shop online, Chan said.

Tseong allegedly belonged to the second gang.

According to Chan, the Judiciary Police had received separate reports from a local bank and nine victims between February and March that the credit card information of some of the bank’s customers and the victims had been stolen to purchase goods online from overseas stores, involving about 158,000 patacas.

The Judiciary Police identified Tseong as the suspect and discovered that the gang had used the stolen credit card information to purchase goods from overseas online stores and had the items delivered via courier companies to a flat rented by Tseong in Areia Preta. The goods were then smuggled in small quantities by parallel traders to the mainland and sold there. Chan said most of the goods were brand-name clothing bought online from Europe.

According to Chan, the Judiciary Police asked Tseong to report to a police station on Monday for questioning. Tseong claimed that he had been assisting “someone” he knew in the mainland to purchase the goods from overseas and he had then arranged for them to be delivered to the mainland. Tseong claimed that he did not know where the goods came from. However, according to Chan, the Judiciary Police believe that Tseong was a key member of the gang. PJ officers discovered that the second gang had delivered more than 400 items to Macau via courier companies between last December and March, worth about six million patacas. The Judiciary Police are continuing their investigation into the case and the whereabouts of the stolen goods, Chan said.

Tseong was transferred to the Public Prosecutions Office (MP) yesterday, facing charges of computer fraud and fencing, according to Chan.

Chan urges residents not to lend their Apple ID account number to others or assist others in making online purchases to avoid being scammed. 

The hooded credit card scam suspect surnamed Tseong is escorted by Judiciary Police (PJ) officers from the PJ headquarters to a PJ vehicle yesterday.

Evidence seized from Tseong such as six smartphones and a shirt is displayed at the Judiciary Police (PJ) headquarters yesterday. Photos: Iong Tat Choi

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