24 FDWs, 5 others nabbed over money laundering

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Officers from the Financial Intelligence and Investigation Bureau revealed the arrests made on Monday and Tuesday due to money laundering. (SCREENSHOT FROM: Hong Kong Police/Facebook)

Police arrested 24 foreign domestic workers and five members of a suspected money laundering syndicate in raids across Hong Kong on Monday and Tuesday.

The syndicate reportedly recruited the FDWs—23 Filipino and one Indonesian—to open at least 35 bank accounts for laundering money obtained from scams.

Two Filipino women and three Nigerian men were also arrested. Two of the men were said to be the masterminds, while the remaining three people were core members of the syndicate.

Officers took in all 29 people on suspicion of “conspiring to deal in property known or believed to represent the proceeds of an indictable offence.”

According to the police, the syndicate laundered more than HK$27 million dollars acquired through at least 20 online romance scams and two email scams from July 2020 to May 2021.

The syndicate would pay several thousands of dollars to the FDWs in exchange for using their bank accounts.

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For the love scams, police said syndicate members would pose as professionals to con 20 victims—aged between 21 and 73—into depositing money in those bank accounts. Email scams from last year also duped employees of a local company and an overseas firm.

Both the email and online romance scams involved HK$13 million of the total money laundered.

During the police operation, officers seized over 100 ATM cards and approximately HK$330,000 in cash. They also froze the bank accounts involved in the scam, which still held around HK$1.5 million.

An investigation is still underway and further arrests cannot be ruled out, police said.

Police reminded that money laundering is a serious case and that the public should not lend their bank accounts to others.

The offence of laundering money in Hong Kong carries a maximum penalty of HK$5 million in fines and 14 years imprisonment.