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Ex-DH jailed 8 months for rent scam

23 September 2020

By Vir B. Lumicao

Defendant's BOC account was used to trick would-be tenants to transfer money


An overstaying Filipina helper who said she lent her ATM card to a woman who used it to launder $53,000 obtained through scams was sentenced to 8 months in jail at Eastern Court today, Sept 23.

Magistrate Bina Chainrai also sentenced A.L. Cabanban, 39, to four weeks’ jail for breaching her condition of stay, which will run concurrently with the other penalty.

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Cabanban was dismissed by her employer on Apr 9 last year but remained illegally in Hong Kong after failing to find a new employer before her 14-day visa extension lapsed on Apr 23.

She said in a statement to investigators that during her illegal stay, she met a woman named Myla who borrowed her Bank of China ATM card and its password in exchange for a $3,000 fee.

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Cabanban said she knew nothing about the huge amounts of cash that went in and out of her account. 

She was arrested on Apr 17 this year at the Skyline Tower Immigration office in Kowloon Bay, the prosecution said. Her lawyer, however, said in mitigation that she was there purposely to surrender.

Police initially charged Cabanban on Apr 20 with two counts of obtaining property by deception after investigators of a rental scam that duped two men of $35,000 in total traced a bank account used in the deception to her.

Victims Lee Hok-bun, a Chinese, and Rupert Nicholas Bickmore, a Briton, said they were conned after they replied separately in January 2019 to an online advertisement for a rental flat in Central.

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They called a Whatsapp number given in the ad and a person who replied told them to make a rental deposit $14,000 and $21,000, respectively, to a BOC account.

After a month, the person later asked for a further deposit of one month’s rent. When they didn’t do so, the person became unreachable, so they reported to police.

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Investigators found that, apart from the $35,000 that Lee and Bickmore deposited, other deposits were made to the account between Oct 23 last year and Jan 28 this year, bringing the total to $52,770.

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