Interest rates

Twenty-two arrested for low-interest loan scams

Twenty-two people were arrested on Thursday and Friday on charges of conspiracy to defraud and money laundering for defrauding seven people of more than HK$1.9 million after they allegedly offered low-interest loans .

The 17 men and five women, aged 19 to 38, are now in custody. Officers seized more than 10 computers, 60 smartphones, around HK$1.2 million in cash and some documents during the operation.

The crime came to the attention of police after four men and three women complained to police between September and December last year.

The police investigation showed that the fraudsters posed as staff of local financial firms and cold-called the victims, claiming they could offer loans at low interest rates.

As the seven victims of the scam, the fraudsters then asked them to transfer so-called “bonds”, ranging from 30,000 to 1.36 million Hong Kong dollars, into designated bank accounts to increase the chances of the loan applications.

The fraudsters then disappeared after having collected the sums, and the victims saw their loan applications “refused”.

Police said the union had been active for more than six months, but believed they had destroyed it for good. However, officers added that some members had a background in the triad society and they would continue to investigate whether a financial company might be benefiting from the scam.

More arrests could be made, police noted, reminding the public to contact approved finance companies or banks if they needed to apply for a loan.