Telephone scams
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Scams and swindles

Mainland exchange student in Hong Kong likely lost at least HK$1.2 million in phone scam

Police investigating whether the 18-year-old’s locked bank account is depleted after she shared details with a man claiming to be a law enforcement official

PUBLISHED : Monday, 26 September, 2016, 4:25pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 31 August, 2017, 10:57pm

A newly arrived 18-year-old student from the mainland has become Hong Kong’s biggest loser among dozens of students cheated in a spate of phone scams this year, after a bogus mainland official swindled her out of HK$1.2 million.

Nearly a quarter of the 149 victims duped out of HK$110 million by phone scammers in the first eight months of this year were students, including 13 from the mainland. The youngest was a 17-year-old secondary school student.

The Chinese University student, who arrived in the city last month, told police that on Friday she received a call from a man who claimed to be a policeman from Hangzhou, Zhejiang province.

“The man accused the victim of being involved in a deception case and instructed her to hand over the details and password of her mainland bank account, saying it was for investigative purposes,” a police source said.

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She realised she had been cheated when she could not access her bank account online because the password had been changed. She called police on Sunday night.

Officers said on Monday evening that the thieves took 1.04 million yuan (HK$1.2 million)from the victim’s mainland bank account.

It is understood 37 secondary and university students were cheated out of more than HK$5 million in total this year.

“Most of them were cheated out of from tens of thousands of dollars to hundreds of thousands of dollars each,” a police source said.

He said the sum stolen from the latest victim was probably the highest single amount scammed from a student during the recent spate.

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Figures showed that 34.9 per cent of scam victims this year were new migrants from the mainland.

The city’s biggest scam victim was a 52-year-old Yuen Long resident cheated out of more than HK$58 million.

On Sunday, a mainland woman in the city also reported she had fallen victim.

The 22-year-old told police she got a call on September 1 from a man claiming to work for a courier company, saying a parcel she had sent contained fake identity cards. He transferred the call to a man who claimed to be a policeman from Shanghai, who instructed her to open a bank account on the mainland and transfer money into it.

As instructed, she transferred 60,340 yuan (HK$70,000) into her mainland bank account in two transactions. She said she realised she had been cheated after she found the money had been withdrawn.

On Monday afternoon, a Hong Kong woman, 23, called police after a con artist posing as mainland police swindled her out of about 110,000 yuan (HK$128,000).