Forgery-cum-illegal worker syndicate neutralised by Immigration Department

16 August 2013

The Immigration Department conducted an operation, codenamed "Ringcracker" yesterday (August 15) and today (August 16), and successfully neutralised a forgery syndicate which provided one-stop service to illegal workers. During the operation, the Investigation Sub-division of the Immigration Department deployed 125 officers to raid a total of 15 target addresses, including five residential addresses and 10 working places. A total of 30 persons were arrested, age ranging from 16 to 62, including three syndicate members, 16 Mainlanders who were suspected to have breached their condition of stay in Hong Kong (including 13 illegal workers who were in possession of forged Hong Kong identity cards (HKIC)) and 11 employers who were suspected of employing the illegal workers. A total of 35 forged HKICs and two Home Visit Permits were also unearthed in the operation. The investigation is still in progress.

The Immigration Department has earlier received a report from a Mandatory Provident Fund Trustee Company, indicating that some trustees were suspected to have furnished false HKIC particulars. After investigation, a forgery syndicate which provided illegal workers with forged HKICs was identified. Investigation also unveiled that the syndicate would recruit Mainlanders for seeking illegal employment in Hong Kong and provide them with forged HKICs to conceal their true identities. The syndicate would also arrange for the job, board and lodging of the illegal workers while at the same time they would withhold part of the workers' remunerations as commissions. It is believed that this syndicate has been smashed by this large-scale operation. The department will continue to co-operate with various law enforcement agencies to counter cross-border criminal activities.

Under the laws of Hong Kong, anyone who uses or possesses a forged identity card commits an offence. Offenders are liable to prosecution and, upon conviction, a maximum penalty of a fine of $100,000 and 10 years' imprisonment. Moreover, visitors are not allowed to take up employment, whether paid or unpaid, without the prior permission of the Director of Immigration. Offenders are liable to prosecution and, upon conviction, to a maximum fine of $50,000 and two years' jail.

The Immigration Department appeals to employers not to employ illegal workers, warning that it is an offence to employ people who are not lawfully employable. The maximum penalty is a fine of $350,000 and imprisonment for three years. It is also an offence if an employer fails to inspect the job seeker's identity card or, if the job seeker does not have a Hong Kong permanent identity card, his or her valid travel document. The maximum penalty for failing to do so is a fine of $150,000 and imprisonment for one year. If employers have doubt on the job seeker's employability, they should make enquiries through the immigration enquiry telephone hotline 2824 1551.