Customs officers have cracked down on a purported employment agency, which allegedly preyed on foreign domestic helpers by falsely claiming they could help their friends and family find work in Hong Kong.
Two saleswomen from the company were arrested on suspicion of contravening the Trade Descriptions Ordinance.
Officers have identified eight victims so far, who handed over HK$180,000 as "agency fees", and are calling on others to come forward.
Customs said the "employment agency" posted adverts on social media promoting job referral services to foreign domestic helpers in Hong Kong.
They claimed to be able to assist helpers' friends and relatives in finding work in the city as construction workers, cleaners, and waiters, with salaries supposedly ranging from HK$7,000 to HK$13,000.
A divisional commander from the department, Wilson Wong, said the victims were attracted by the prospect of high salaries, regular working hours, and being reunited with their families.
He said once people paid a deposit of up to HK$24,000, the company would continue with its deception.
"The staff will pretend to send the employment contract and related documents to the applicants for signature, and arrange for them to go to the medical centre back into their home town to carry out a pre-employment medical examination," he said.
"It made the foreign domestic helpers and relatives back in the home town falsely believe the job applications were ongoing."
Wong said several months later, those conned would attempt to get an update on the job applications from the company but would find the communications channels had been blocked off.
The department said people should do some research about companies before doing business with them, to make sure they are legitimate and think twice if an offer seems too good to be true.