Blackmail letters from Guandong target local officials

Updated: 2011-08-04 07:05

By Andrea Deng (HK Edition)

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The police on Wednesday confirmed the reports that 43 Hong Kong government officials have received blackmail letters since July 28.

Most of the intended victims were men. Some of the threatening letters contained doctored photos.

According to Lo Wai-chung, director of the Crime and Security Division, the letters asked for money ranging from HK$200,000 to HK$500,000.

But none of the officials have reported paying.

Unverified reports said that the poor quality, doctored photos purported to show officials in compromising situations with women.

The letters also included terse threats that "if the officials do not pay, their private affairs will be disclosed, and that more photos will be made public".

The officials targeted include Suen Ming-yeung, secretary for education, and two unnamed officials from the Commerce and Economic Development Bureau and the Hong Kong Monetary Authority.

All have complained to police in the last week.

The Education Bureau confirmed that Suen was a target for blackmail, but declined to comment on the matter.

Lo said the contents of the letters are quite similar, and that the matter will be investigated by the Organized Crime and Triad Bureau.

All the letters were mailed from Guangdong province.

Police pledged to cooperate with mainland counterparts to track the source of the letters.

The letters have been turned over to the Government Laboratory to search for fingerprints.

Lo declined to comment on the case, and said it was "inconvenient to disclose" whether the matter involved officials in higher ranks.

The approach in the present case first surfaced on the mainland.

In June, four men from Hunan province were convicted of blackmailing 48 mainland officials in more than five provinces.

According to reports, the group got together in July 2010, two searching for the officials' information on the Internet, and the other two sending mails.

Some of those emails demanded sums as high as 100,000 yuan.

Authorities reported that the gang received a total of 330,000 yuan from five officials.

When they were arrested, another 101 blackmail letters were found, some of which demanded as much as 300,000 yuan.

andrea@chinadailyhk.com

China Daily

(HK Edition 08/04/2011 page1)