Steep increase in Hong Kong phone scam victims despite repeated police warnings
University student becomes latest victim to con artists, losing HK$71,000
Despite repeated warnings from police, a mainland university student fell prey to phone scammers and was dupped out of HK$71,000 by con artists posing as officials.
The 23-year-old University of Science and Technology student, surnamed Li, reported the case in Tseung Kwan O police station Friday morning.
She said the scammers posed as government officials and accused her of being involved in criminal case. The telephone line was then transferred to a man who claimed to be from a mainland law enforcement agency.
“He demanded a total of 63,000 yuan to be transferred into a mainland bank account in three separate transactions. Li discovered she had been scammed only after making the transactions, and immediately called police,” a police spokesman said.
Police are yet to make any arrests in relation to the case.
Police have repeatedly warned the public that anyone from youngsters to newcomers from the mainland, to professionals can easily fall prey to telephone scammers.
The number of reported cases climbed almost 70 per cent to 173 in September, compared with 102 in August.
The 102 cases in September that involved money loss equated to HK$32 million – three times the August total HK$9.6 million. And of all the victims this year, 45 per cent were younger than 30, and about 10 per cent were exchange students from the mainland.
On Tuesday, phone scammers cheated a Taiwanese student from the same university out of HK$420,000 by using the same tactics.
Not satisfied with that sum, the scammers then lured him to Shanghai, supposedly to help with an investigation, and called the victim’s father in Taiwan in an attempt con him out of a further two million yuan (HK$2.28 million).
In a similar case in September, an 18-year-old mainland Chinese student at the Chinese University of Hong Kong was swindled out of HK$1.2 million.
The police recorded 732 cases of phone scams during the first nine months of this year, involving HK$154.5 million.
Police believed the city’s biggest scam victim this year was a 52-year-old Yuen Long resident, who was cheated out of more than HK$58 million in March.