HONG KONG, June 17(AP) -- A syndicate of doctors and insurance agents allegedly recruited poverty-stricken mainland Chinese who agreed to have their eyesight permanently damaged in return for cash rewards as part of a multi-million-dollar insurance scam, authorities said.
Graft-busters have arrested 22 people over the scam, including two mainland Chinese who had their eyesight damaged allegedly by doctors making the bogus claims, Hong Kong's Independent Commission Against Corruption said Friday.
The two mainland Chinese were among four people recruited from poor areas of rural China who were each promised cash of up to HK$300,000 (US$38,640; €30,543) for each damaged eye, ICAC said.
Those recruited were given false identity documents so they could make claims for labor injuries or traffic accidents in Hong Kong, the anti-graft body said.
Others arrested included six insurance agents and a Hong Kong doctor. The syndicate made claims to swindle HK$18 million (US$2.3 million; €1.82 million) from at least 11 insurance companies, the ICAC said.
The syndicate had successfully claimed more than HK$8 million (US$1.03 million; €810,000) but the ICAC's operation prevented the rest of the claims from being paid out.
"This is the first time that we have handled insurance fraud cases where real and self-inflicted injuries were involved," the South China Morning Post quoted investigator Ng Ping-kwok as saying.