17 Jun 2014
Seven Mainlanders and four Hong Kong residents were sentenced today (June 17) to prison terms for involvement in an immigration scam.
The seven Mainlanders had attempted to illegally enter South America on forged Hong Kong Special Administrative Region passports (HKSAR passports) for illegal employment, and the four Hong Kong residents had acted as boarding pass facilitators for the Mainlanders. They were all charged with conspiracy to obtain services by deception. One of the Hong Kong residents, who was also involved in a bogus marriage case, was additionally charged with conspiracy to defraud. After the trial at the District Court, the seven Mainlanders were sentenced today to imprisonment ranging from 18 to 20 months while the four Hong Kong residents were sentenced to imprisonment ranging from 35 to 43 months.
In August 2013, seven Mainlanders and one Hong Kong resident were arrested by immigration investigators at Hong Kong International Airport upon their removal from Ethiopia and Thailand. Investigation revealed that a middleman had arranged for the Mainlanders to enter Hong Kong via Lok Ma Chau control point with their People's Republic of China passports. They then took a flight to Thailand. On board the flight, they acquired boarding passes for a connecting flight to Ethiopia from seven Hong Kong residents who had been recruited by syndicate members for the boarding pass swap. The seven Mainlanders intended to make use of forged HKSAR passports and the boarding passes to travel to Ethiopia and then to South America for illegal employment. They were subsequently intercepted and removed back to Hong Kong, together with one of the Hong Kong residents, from Ethiopia and Thailand.
The Immigration Department initiated investigations of all the Hong Kong residents involved, during which some admitted that they had taken part in the smuggling plot for a monetary reward of HK$2,500. The seven Mainlanders and four Hong Kong residents were then prosecuted and convicted.
An Immigration spokesman said, "Under the Theft Ordinance, a person who by any deception dishonestly obtains services from another shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable, upon conviction, to imprisonment for up to 10 years. Under the Crimes Ordinance, a person convicted of the offence of conspiracy to defraud shall be liable, upon conviction, to imprisonment for up to 14 years.
Under the Immigration Ordinance, anyone who possesses or uses a forged travel document commits an offence. Offenders are liable to prosecution and, upon conviction, to a maximum fine of $150,000 and imprisonment for 14 years.