August 17, 2022

An online love scam in which a lawyer in the United States was duped out of more than US$2.6mil (RM10.98mil) has led to the arrest of a Hong Kong waitress on suspicion of money laundering.

A police investigation suggested that the 30-year-old woman was the holder of one of eight local bank accounts allegedly used to collect and launder the proceeds of the scam, a force insider said on Thursday.

“Most of the other seven account holders are believed to be mainlanders who are still at large,” the source said, adding that officers were still investigating whether the suspect was paid to hand over her account to be used by the scammers.

According to the force, the American lawyer, who lives in Michigan, befriended a woman on a dating app in November 2020 and was eventually tricked into making more than US$2.6mil (RM10.98mil) in bogus investments via two fake trading platforms.

Police said the victim transferred the funds into eight bank accounts in Hong Kong in the first quarter last year.

He later realised he had been duped when he found himself unable to access his accounts on the two platforms or contact his online lover. Hong Kong police launched an investigation after receiving a report from the victim.

The source said police had frozen about HK$630,000 (US$80,770 or RM340,293) in several bank accounts, including the one held by the waitress, in connection with the case.

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