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Be careful, get caught in a money laundering crime syndicate

Indonesian migrant workers (PMI) in Hong Kong must be more vigilant regarding invitations to create an online account at a virtual bank with the promise of a certain amount of wages. This is because data collected by the Eastern Kowloon Criminal Investigation Department shows that there is an increase in the number of criminal groups targeting foreign domestic workers (PRT) to create online accounts at virtual banks for money laundering purposes.

"Last week, the police carried out two anti-money laundering operations which succeeded in dismantling several criminal networks and arresting many account holders, many of whom were foreign domestic workers who did not understand local laws," wrote Dimsum Daily, Wednesday (4/6/2024) .

As an anticipatory step, the Hong Kong Police held an event for nearly 180 domestic workers from the Philippines and Indonesia at the Eastern Kowloon Police Headquarters on Sunday, June 2. "This initiative comes amid growing concerns about criminal syndicates exploiting these workers to open proxy bank accounts for illicit financial activities," wrote Dimsum Daily.

The event was designed to educate foreign domestic workers about various police operations and raise their awareness of the online fraud that is prevalent in Hong Kong. Participants were given hands-on experiences, including demonstrations by police dog units, tours of tactical units, and traffic departments, as well as participating in a simulated identity parade.

“The aim is to deepen their understanding of the reporting procedures and risks associated with misuse of their personal bank accounts for money laundering.”

19 Foreign Domestic Workers Arrested, There Are PMIs Too

As previously reported, Hong Kong Police detained 67 people accused of using virtual bank accounts to launder money. A total of 19 people arrested were foreign domestic workers from Indonesia and the Philippines.

Dimsum Daily reported that the arrest was part of "Operation SUNLITSKY", namely a five-day police action that began on May 27, which aims to tackle the increasing trend of dummy accounts in virtual banks being used for money laundering. These accounts often experience large transactions, triggering police operations.

Senior Inspector Chan Wing-yen of the Eastern Kowloon Regional Crime Unit and Inspector Wu Hoi-ling of the Cybersecurity and Technology Crime Bureau (CSTCB) reported that the total financial loss from the related fraud cases was approximately HK$73 million, involving 108 victims aged between 15 and 79 years old. These cases mainly involved online job fraud, shopping fraud, and investment schemes, with the largest single loss being HK$1,9 million.

Inspector Wu highlights the vulnerability of foreign domestic workers who, due to their low income and ignorance of local laws, are targeted by criminal syndicates. “These workers were reportedly paid between HK$1.800 and HK$2.500 to open bank accounts via mobile apps, which were then used by criminals to funnel illegal profits,” wrote Dimsum Daily.

Additionally, police have noticed a disturbing trend where individuals are being lured through social media platforms to take part in quick money schemes. These individuals provide personal information and bank access to criminals for amounts of several hundred to several thousand Hong Kong dollars, making them complicit in the money laundering process.

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