Educate public about scams, judge in phone fraud case urges government, press
District Court judge Stanley Chan sentences mainland man to 32 months’ jail for helping cheat elderly victims
A Hong Kong judge on Thursday urged the government and the press to help raise public awareness in the wake of the rising number of phone scam cases plaguing the city, as he sentenced a mainland accomplice in phone frauds to 32 months in jail.
District Court judge Stanley Chan made the remarks when he sentenced Li Shonjia, 21, who pleaded guilty earlier to a total of five counts of money laundering and conspiracy to launder money over his role to collect up to HK$250,000 in scamming proceeds.
Chan said: “The court wishes the government and press to keep up the effort ... to make known the widespread nature and consequence of this type of fraud.”
Although it was not the best solution, he added when commenting on what he said was a phenomenon plaguing not only Hong Kong but also the mainland, “at least it can reduce the chance of the fraudsters succeeding”.
The court heard earlier that Li was introduced to the “job” after meeting a friend in a bar in the city of Jiangmen in Guangdong.
Between March and July this year, calls were made to four victims – between 60 and 88 years old – by unknown people. The victims were told over the phone either that their children or grandchildren were in trouble, and that they had to pay up to save them.
Li was promised 1,000 yuan (HK$1,116) each time to collect money from these victims, who would be instructed to bring cash to various places in Hong Kong. He was arrested after the last victim called the police on him.
Judge Chan likened young defendants who crossed the border to commit these crimes to the notorious armed thugs in the 80s – minus the weapons – who ventured to the city from the mainland to commit more violent crimes.
He also cited figures, saying that the number of phone scams that led to monetary loss jumped from 482 in 2008 to 912 two years ago.
He therefore added a deterring element of an extra eight months to Li’s two-year sentence, jailing him for a total of 32 months.
“A lot of these victims not only suffer from anxiety and a sense of hopelessness, both psychical and mental, they may also lose all their life savings,” Chan said.
He advised the government and the press to educate the public to not to answer calls from unknown callers.
“This gives [the fraudsters] no chance of getting their scams across,” he said.