Debt Collectors in Hong Kong Employ Shady Tactics to Threaten Domestic Helpers

By Thea Felicity

Jun 09, 2024 01:30 PM EDT

A man walks past the Huarong Asset Management building in the financial district in Beijing on November 18, 2021, a day after the cash-strapped debt collector announced plans to raise 6.6 billion USD by selling shares and divesting more assets to stay afloat.
(Photo : JADE GAO/AFP via Getty Images)

At least 30 Hong Kong employers had sought help after their domestic helpers were deceived into taking out high-interest loans and then threatened with violence or sent fake, obscene pictures when they were unable to repay the money, or sometimes, even when they had repaid it.

In a  South China Morning Post report, the Coalition of Global Home Service Sustainable Development, an NGO focusing on family and helper issues, warned on Sunday about a rising trend in such deception cases. 

READ MORE: Hong Kong Cracks Down Fake Crypto Exchange Using Elon Musk Deepfakes to Trick Investors

How Loan Sharks Approached Domestic Helpers

Loan sharks or fraudulent lenders often approach domestic helpers, promising quick and easy loans with low interest rates. Helpers needing financial support might find these offers attractive.

Domestic helpers are often targeted because they may lack financial literacy, have limited access to legal recourse, and may be more easily manipulated due to their vulnerable status in a foreign country.

Once a helper has taken out a loan, the firms hire "shady" debt collectors to use threats of violence or the dissemination of fake, obscene photos to intimidate them into compliance and prevent them from seeking help or defaulting.

Currently, the Coalition of Global Home Service Sustainable Development has received more than 20 inquiries and new ones every day over the past week, while employment agencies have reported handling another 10 cases.

The NGO is providing direct assistance to victims of predatory loan practices while gathering and documenting new cases to create a database as evidence for advocating more vital regulatory actions. Additionally, they are focusing on raising awareness among domestic helpers and agencies to prevent more individuals from falling victim to loan sharks.

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