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Employers blackmailed into paying fake loans of helpers, says DAB

10 June 2024


DAB says 20 employers have been victimized (RTHK photo)

Members of the pro-Beijing political party Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong (DAB) has exposed a scam where employers are blackmailed by debt collectors into repaying money supposedly borrowed by their helpers.

According to DAB lawmaker Edward Leung, around 20 employers have contacted his group since April to complain about debt collectors who tricked their helpers into providing personal information while filling out online forms to inquire about loans.

As part of the inquiry, the helpers were required to provide the employer’s personal details and photos, which the helpers apparently supplied. The helpers were also asked to provide their bank account information.


Immediately afterwards, the helpers’ accounts were credited with loans they did not ask for, and with interest rates way above what is allowed under the law.

In one such case, $2,000 was transferred to a domestic worker’s bank account, followed by an advice that the debt would rise to $4,800 after 14 days, for an effective interest rate of 140 percent.

When the helpers refused to pay the loans - which ranged from a few thousand dollars to $100,000, -their employers were told that AI-generated pornographic photos of them would be published unless they paid up. In some cases, the employers’ offices were splashed with red paint.

Red paint was splashed on the door of an employer's workplace

Leung said the party has assisted the employers in calling the police.

He called on the government to impose a cap on how much FDHs are allowed to borrow and require debt collectors to apply for a licence, to prevent these cases from recurring.

"If this kind of situation worsens in Hong Kong, I believe that it will force the government to take further steps to set up certain laws to contain this kind of illegal debt collecting," said Leung.

Leung says debt collectors must be licensed, and govt should limit FDH loans

The news comes just days after the Philippine Consulate General warned Filipino domestic workers not to disclose any personal details or share photos of their employers, their houses, and even their cars.

The PCG hinted that some FDHs had shared with the online money lenders not only the personal details of their employers, but also photos. The helpers were also sent a video in which they acknowledged taking out a loan from the company.

The PCG has advised the victims in these cases to take a screenshot of their transactions with the illegal money lenders and report them to the nearest police station – or seek advice and assistance from the Consulate or the Migrant Workers’ Office.

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