A 12-year-old boy was among 36 people who were arrested when police in Hong Kong and Macau broke up a fraud syndicate that used stolen credit card data to make online purchases.
During the joint operation, code-named Soaringstar, which ran from last Saturday to Wednesday, five Hongkongers, including the boy, were picked up in the city, while the other 31 people, including the suspected ringleader, were rounded up in Macau.
A police source said the five people detained in Hong Kong were thought to have been recruited by the gang to collect items the gang bought online using the stolen information.
The three males and two females, aged between 12 and 41, were arrested on suspicion of obtaining property by deception – an offence that carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in jail.
Police said the five had been released on bail, pending further investigation. During the operation, Hong Kong police seized two computers and four mobile phones.
According to police, the gang obtained stolen credit card details, used the information to buy things online, and then sold the goods on.
Chief Inspector Cheung Wai-ho, of the Cyber Security and Technology Crime Bureau, said more than 200 sets of credit card information were involved. The Post has learned the card owners were from Hong Kong, Macau, and other countries.
He said the goods the gang bought on the internet between March and August were worth about HK$660,000 (S$120). The items included clothing, electronic products, and gift vouchers.
“Illegal acts on the internet are not beyond the law,” Cheung said. “The public should check their credit card statements regularly and report any suspicious transactions.”
This article was first published in South China Morning Post.