Those who hoped to make ends meet by borrowing money under a special loan scheme during the pandemic have ended up falling victim to a scam.

Police have arrested 32 people in connection to a syndicate which cheated 520 people of a total HK$52 million by claiming it can offer loans with low interest rates.

It also claimed it could help victims apply for “100 percent Personal Loan Guarantee Scheme,” a government measure which helps the unemployed during the pandemic.

Police said the syndicate reached the victims by phone calls and fake websites, claiming they could provide “extra low interest loans” and that they can help clients apply for the loan guarantee scheme under the Hong Kong Mortgage Corporation.

Once the scammers got hold of personal info and bank account details of the victims, they made use of them to apply for loans from banks. Then they transferred the borrowed amounts from victims’ bank accounts to their own accounts, some of which were mainland accounts.

The 520 victims included the unemployed, drivers, housewives and even professionals, aged between 20 and 81. They lost HK$3,000 to HK$1.85 million per person.

Three telemarketing centers were busted in Hung Hom, Tsuen Wan and Cheung Sha Wan. As the syndicate frequently moved locations of the centers, it took time for police to investigate and identify them.

Police reminded citizens who need loans to contact banks or licensed lenders on their own, and not to…

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