Police make phone scams call after more lose in Hong Kong

Victims told to deposit funds in their mainland accounts as crooks obtain passwords and codes to steal cash

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 19 April, 2017, 5:37pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 19 April, 2017, 10:28pm

Victims of phone scams are being asked to put requested funds in their own mainland bank accounts before they are siphoned by the crooks.

This was revealed on Wednesday by police who said more than HK$40 million was lost by 127 victims in the first three months of the year.

Over the four-day Easter holidays, fraudsters tricked 11 people in Hong Kong out of HK$12.4 million. One of them lost nearly HK$3.5 million after they gave their bank passwords to the con men.

Chief Inspector Wilson Tam Wai-shun, from the Kowloon East Regional Police Headquarters, said in more than half of cases it was still a common tactic for criminals to pose as mainland officials to get victims to transfer money to their accounts in an attempt to establish their innocence in alleged misdemeanours.

He said victims had recently been requested to transfer funds to their existing or newly opened mainland accounts and then asked for their passwords or codes.

“Victims will feel the scams are more believable and credible as they are transferring money to their own bank accounts,” Tam said. “But they still fall prey and lose money because they give away their bank account details, including codes and passwords. Some fraudsters will also ask victims to input their passcodes to bogus websites or mobile apps.”

Although the number of reported phone scam cases in the first quarter fell by nearly 15 per cent and money lost was down by more than 40 per cent on the same period last year, police received more than 160 reports of such activities in March and April. This was nearly three times more than the total number of reports for January and February.

Less than two weeks ago, a 44-year-old immigrant lost three million yuan (HK$3.4 million) to callers claiming to be local and mainland officials.

The victim received a call on April 8 from an unknown man who claimed to be a local immigration officer and who accused him of having committed a criminal offence.

The caller passed the line to another person, who claimed to be a Shanghai police officer, and the man was ordered to transfer three million yuan to his mainland bank account and hand over the password. “He even borrowed money from his friends,” Tam said.

He also warned people to be aware of an internet link to a fake website that claims there is a mainland arrest warrant out for them.

Of the phone scam victim in the past three months, about 80 per cent of them were local residents holding Hong Kong identity cards, with a third under the age of 30.