Hong Kong police to target university campuses with warnings of phone scams after student loses millions
Eleven people were conned out of HK$12.4 million over the four-day Easter holiday
Hong Kong police plan to step up awareness campaigns on university campuses of phone scams after a 23-year-old mainland student was conned out of 3 million yuan (HK$3.4 million).
The plan and the latest case come after 11 people were scammed out of HK$12.4 million over the four-day Easter holiday.
A police insider said most recent victims were newcomers to the city who shared one thing in common: “They told us they had never heard of phone scams or received related messages. Many of them did not read newspapers and were not active on social media.”
The source said police were considering taking their crime prevention message – holding talks and putting up posters – to university campuses as a result.
“At least we can reach the immigrants who are studying in Hong Kong but have no sense of local affairs,” the source said.
“By holding talks, we can alert them to the tactics of the phone scammers by citing old cases. Otherwise, newcomers will keep falling prey.”
The mainland student, surnamed Tang and studying for a doctorate degree at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, alerted police to the phone scam at 4pm on Friday.
Police said Tang had received a call from an unknown man who claimed to be a local immigration officer and accused the student of committing a criminal offence. The call was then passed to another person, who claimed to be a Shanghai police officer.
Tang was ordered to transfer 3 million yuan into his own mainland bank account for the investigation and to reveal his banking password.
The student only realised he had been cheated when his mother told him all the money in the account was gone.
The case came just two days after police issued yet another warning about phone scams and the strategies used by the fraudsters. They said victims were being asked to transfer money into their own private mainland bank accounts and reveal their passwords, before the crooks would siphon the funds out.
During the Easter break, another mainland student from the University of Hong Kong told police she had been cheated out of 220,000 yuan (HK$240,000) by con artists claiming to be mainland officials. And earlier this month, a 44-year-old migrant also lost 3 million yuan to scammers.
More than HK$40 million was lost by 127 phone scam victims over the first three months of the year. While the number of cases during the first quarter fell by almost 15 per cent year on year, with total losses down by more than 40 per cent, the criminals have ramped up their activities in recent months.
More than 160 reports of phone scams were received in March and April – almost three times the number received in January and February.