Conmen using HK for lottery scam, say police

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 04 September, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 04 September, 2010, 12:00am

Beware of random calls informing you that you have hit the jackpot. They may be a fraud.

The police Commercial Crime Bureau yesterday said it had received 1,499 reports of lottery swindles in the past 2 1/2 years, involving losses of about HK$181 million.

A police spokesman said that so far 117 people had been arrested in 41 cases. Of these, 56 people were sentenced to jail terms ranging from four months to 66 months.

He said the swindlers and victims in most of the cases were outside the city. But conmen often used Hong Kong bank accounts, mobile numbers and addresses.

In general swindle cases, conmen claiming to represent a lottery agency informed people through e-mail, phone calls or mail that they had won a considerable amount of money.

They would urge the 'winners' to claim their prizes as soon as possible, and ask them not to tell others, the spokesman said.

Police said the victims were usually Putonghua-speaking Chinese living in Australia, Singapore, Taiwan, North America and New Zealand.

The police spokesman said Hong Kong was an international financial centre and that attracted swindlers to use bank accounts in the city.

He said people should beware of messages saying they had won a prize and should never pay a lottery body or provide personal information to take part in online lotteries.