Twelve Hongkongers – seven men and five women – were arrested over the past two days on suspicion of fraud tied to money laundering during raids on 27 locations conducted by more than 160 law enforcers and staff from the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC).

“During the operation, the SFC and police have frozen accounts from securities firms and banks and seized a large amount of cash, along with valuables. The total amount involved is more than HK$900 million,” a government source said.

The source said he believed a fraud syndicate was behind the scam and had targeted investment groups on social media platforms, claiming they could offer stock tips or inside information.

Most of the time, investors were unaware of the true identities of the people who lured them into the trap, according to the scam alert issued by police. In some cases, well-known investment advisers and market commentators have been impersonated.

“Fraudsters ramped up the price of a stock, then used social media to lure investors to buy at a high price. They then sold the stock to make profit,” he said.

He said initial investigation showed the syndicate had used more than a dozen stocks to lure investors.