Telephone scams

Hong Kong housewife becomes biggest phone scam victim this year after HK$10 million taken from account

Discovery Bay resident reports loss after police issue warnings about people claiming to be mainland Chinese police officers

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 26 April, 2017, 7:01pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 27 April, 2017, 9:14am

A 42-year-old Hong Kong housewife has become the biggest phone deception loser this year as she was conned out of more than HK$10 million by scammers posing as mainland police officers.

Her case emerged after 11 people were scammed out of HK$12.4 million over the four-day Easter holiday and amid repeated police warnings about phone scams.

The Discovery Bay resident, surnamed Lee, reported the case to the police at 11am on Wednesday.

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A con man called the woman claiming to be a Shanghai police officer and accused her of committing a criminal offence in mainland China.

Lee was ordered to open a bank account across the border and transferred HK$10.3 million to it for what she thought were investigation purposes.

“She passed the password to the scammers who later took all her money from her account,” a police insider said. “She told us she had never heard of telephone deception cases.”

The case came just a week after police issued yet another warning about phone scams and the strategies used by fraudsters.

They said victims were being asked to transfer money into their own mainland bank accounts and reveal their passwords, before the crooks withdrew the funds.

Last Friday, a 23-year-old mainland student studying for a doctorate degree at Chinese University alerted police after he was cheated out of 3 million yuan (HK$3.4 million).

Businesswoman loses HK$12m in Hong Kong’s biggest phone scam case in nearly a year

During the Easter break, another mainland student from the University of Hong Kong told police she had been cheated out of 220,000 yuan by con artists claiming to be mainland officials. And earlier this month, a 44-year-old migrant lost 3 million yuan to scammers.

According to police, 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.