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Scams and swindles

Hong Kong bank worker, 24, cheated out of HK$2.7 million in phone scam

Con man posing as mainland police officer asked victim for bank details after accusing her of being involved in money laundering case

PUBLISHED : Monday, 10 July, 2017, 12:59pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 31 August, 2017, 10:48pm

A mainland woman working in a bank in Hong Kong was duped out of 2.36 million yuan (HK$2.7 million) by a con artist claiming to be a mainland law enforcement officer.

The 24-year-old victim, surnamed Li, told police that the scammer called her on Friday and accused her of being involved in a money laundering case.

“The victim was asked to reveal the login name and password for her bank account on the mainland for investigative purposes,” a police source said.

She realised she had been cheated when she checked her account in the small hours of Monday and found 2.36 million yuan had been transferred out.

Li filed a report at Central police station at about 4am on Monday. She is understood to have subsequently gone to Shenzhen to seek help from mainland authorities.

Why are so many young people falling for phone scams?

About a month ago, Hong Kong police launched an “anti-telephone deception week” campaign.

In the first four months of this year, telephone con artists posing as bogus mainland officials cheated 156 victims out of more than HK$80 million.

According to police, 59 per cent of the victims were Hong Kong permanent residents, 31 per cent were students from the mainland and 10 per cent were new arrivals from the mainland. Among the 156 victims, 56 per cent were younger than 30.

Last year, police handled 656 such cases, involving total losses of HK$203 million. In 2015, there were 1,423 such cases involving HK$292 million.

Local police said mainland officials would never ask people for money to prove their innocence or ask for online banking passwords over the phone or via the internet.