image image

Scams and swindles

Mainland woman, 28, cheated of HK$240,000 in phone scam, becoming second victim in four days

Victim gave bank details to caller who claimed to be immigration officer

PUBLISHED : Monday, 17 April, 2017, 3:37pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 31 August, 2017, 10:52pm

A 28-year-old mainland student has become the second victim of a phone scam in just four days, losing 220,000 yuan (HK$240,000) to con artists claiming to be mainland officials.

The victim, surnamed Zhang, reported the case shortly before midnight on Sunday. She told police she got a call from an unknown man who claimed to be a mainland immigration officer.

“The con artist accused Zhang of having committed a criminal offence and ordered her to transfer money for investigation purposes,” a police spokesman said.

Hong Kong man, 44, cheated of HK$3.3 million in phone scam

The victim gave her bank account details, including her password, to the scammer and later discovered that a total of 220,000 yuan had been withdrawn from her account in several transactions.

A police source close to the matter said Zhang is a Hong Kong ID card holder and is currently studying in a master’s degree programme at the University of Hong Kong.

Police have stepped up warnings about phone scams as many people are still falling for them.

Just last Thursday, a 44-year-old immigrant from the mainland reported that he had lost three million yuan to con artists claiming to be Hong Kong and mainland officials.

The fraudsters adopted the common tactic of accusing the victim of breaking mainland law before transferring the call to someone claiming to be from the mainland police.

The victim was told to prove his willingness to cooperate by transferring money to a mainland bank account as a surety.

Earlier this month, an elderly woman lost almost HK$4 million after she was duped into believing she was involved in a mainland criminal case and told to transfer the money to a mainland bank ­account to prove her innocence and help in the investigation.

Steep increase in Hong Kong phone scam victims despite repeated police warnings

“Many of the victims are recent immigrants from the mainland or newcomers who study or work in Hong Kong,” a police insider said. “They are not aware of local news or our publicity.”

The force recorded 1,138 phone scam cases last year, down 60 per cent on 2015 figures. The total financial loss from phone scams fell by HK$96 ­million to HK$220 million in 2016.

According to police chief Stephen Lo Wai-chung, fraudsters posing as mainland officials were committing the bulk of deception cases, with victims losing a total of HK$203 million to them last year.