Hong Kong police busted a fraud syndicate targeting Indonesian domestic helpers in Hong Kong. Photo: Wikimedia Commons, Hong Kong Police Force

A 54-year-old Nepali man and 16 Indonesian women were arrested by the Hong Kong police on Tuesday, accused of using fake documents and working visas to borrow money.

The Nepali man, along with two Indonesian women, aged 34 and 41, masterminded the fraud syndicate, while the other 14 women involved – domestic workers – worked as middle agents, according to Apple Daily. They were arrested during a joint operation between the police force’s Commercial Crime Bureau and the Immigration Department.

The newspaper reports that the syndicate targeted Indonesian maids with soon-to-expire employment contracts who were in financial need. They had given false employment contracts and working visas to 23 Indonesian maids between June 2015 to December 2016, to allow them to borrow money, according to the police.

Each borrower would have to pay HK$7,000 as a commission fee to the syndicate, Sing Tao Daily reported. A total of HK$600,000 in loans was taken out, of which the syndicate secured HK$370,000.

A fake stamp of Indonesia’s Consulate General in Hong Kong, along with HK$150,000 in cash, two computers, three printers, false documents and a dozen Indonesian passports were seized during the operation. The police are hunting another nine Indonesian women who are on the run and may have returned to their home country.