Most street scam artists come from mainland

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 11 January, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 11 January, 2007, 12:00am

More than 90 per cent of people arrested for street scams in the past two years were from the mainland, the secretary for security said yesterday.

Ambrose Lee Siu-kwong said the number of cases had declined in recent years, from 479 in 2004 to 393 in 2005 and 201 in the first 11 months of last year. Police solved 30 of the 2005 cases and arrested 57 people. In the first 11 months of last year they solved 21 cases and arrested 30 people.

Fifty-three of the 57 people arrested in 2005, and 29 of the 30 arrested last year came from the mainland, Mr Lee said in response to a Legislative Council question.

He said it was likely those arrested would not be granted a visa to visit for up to five years after their release. 'After those people are repatriated to the mainland, we will give their records to the mainland authorities,' Mr Lee said. 'The authorities may then not issue a visa for two to five years afterwards.

'[Police also will] co-operate with the Immigration Department so they can monitor the activities of suspected fraudsters when they enter Hong Kong.'

He added that the police had been liaising with banks. If an elderly person were to take out a large sum of money, bank tellers may ask why or even notify police, Mr Lee said. 'But fraudsters are quite clever and they will instruct their victim not to tell anyone why they were taking out the money, and some fall for it.'

Lau Kong-wah, of the Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, said although the number of cases had fallen, it was still a lot. 'Are a lot of the scams old tricks?' he asked.

Mr Lee said many street scams were old ruses and most fell into three categories: scam artists promising to provide 'blessings' for a fee, 'borrowing' mobile phones and pretending to have dropped money on the floor. 'That's why it is important to step up public education and make people aware of the tricks,' he said.