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Scams and swindles

Police scammer: Hongkongers suspicious of text message warning them to be wary of phone scams

Hongkongers told to be careful amid 70 per cent increase in phone scams from last year

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 05 September, 2015, 12:01am
UPDATED : Monday, 04 September, 2017, 7:33pm

A police SMS warning Hongkongers to be wary of phone scams ended up being more effective than it intended yesterday, as many questioned whether the message itself was a hoax.

In an unprecedented move, police sent the message through service providers to the city's mobile phone users to call for vigilance against the crime.

The message, in Chinese, received by users shortly after 10am, read: "Police appeal: Be on guard against phone scams!

"Beware if [you] receive any phone call claiming to be from law enforcement agencies or other organisations, and are asked to provide money, personal details or bank account details. If you suspect you have fallen victim, please contact the police as soon as possible."

The message's sender was shown as "HK Police", but no number was given, according to many who received the message.

Some mobile phone users doubted whether the message was really from police. One woman told media she initially thought the police force, as a branch of the government, would not send a message directly to the public and assumed her phone number had been stolen.

Confirming they had sent the message, police said the move was aimed at raising public awareness over the recent surge in phone scams originating from the mainland.

A spokesman said police had worked with four mobile phone network providers - 3 Hong Kong, CSL, SmarTone and China Mobile - to issue the SMS in an effort to "bring the message more directly and broadly to all in the community".

He added the sending of the message began yesterday, and its arrival time depended on the individual providers' schedule.

In the first seven months of this year, police received 2,371 reports of phone scams, up 70 per cent from the 1,395 in the same period last year. Losses this year totalled HK$175.7 million, more than six times the HK$22.9 million in the same period last year.