Fraudsters use money laundering accusations to con Hong Kong woman out of HK$2.7 million in latest phone scam case

The 40-year-old was contacted by men claiming to be Hong Kong and mainland officials

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 09 March, 2017, 6:26pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 09 March, 2017, 6:29pm

A housewife was duped out of 2.4 million yuan (HK$2.7 million) after con artists posing as a Hong Kong immigration officer and a mainland policeman accused her of being involved in money laundering activities.

The Ap Lei Chau woman, 40, was contacted last Saturday by a man claiming to be a Hong Kong immigration officer, according to police.

“The victim was accused of being involved in money laundering activities,” a police spokesman said.

The call was then transferred to another man who claimed to be an officer from the mainland’s Public Security Bureau.

“As instructed, the victim provided the details and passwords of her mainland bank account over the phone. She was also told she could not check the account balance on the internet,” the spokesman said.

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The woman alerted police on Wednesday after finding 2.4 million yuan had been removed from her mainland bank account.

Kowloon East regional crime unit are handling the case and so far, no one has been arrested.

Hongkongers continue to fall victim to phone scams despite repeated warnings from police not to provide private banking information over the phone or internet.

In January, a businesswoman living in North Point was cheated out of HK$12 million. The largest loss ever recorded in the city for a phone scam was in March last year, when a Hong Kong businessman from Yuen Long was cheated out of HK$58 million.

Typically, victims are called and told a parcel they mailed had violated mainland laws before being passed onto someone claiming to be a mainland official. They are instructed to prove their willingness to cooperate by transferring money to a mainland bank account.

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Hong Kong police reiterated that mainland law enforcers would never ask someone to hand over money to prove their innocence, or request users to provide online banking passwords over the phone or the internet. They would also not issue online arrest warrants.

Hong Kong police handled 656 phone scam cases in 2016 involving fraudsters posing as mainland officials in which victims lost a total of HK$203 million. And in 2015, there were 1,423 cases totalling HK$292 million.