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Scams and swindles

Hong Kong-listed company director, bank manager latest victims of separate phone scams

Con artists posed as government officials, accusing the victims of crimes and then demanding money, scamming them out of HK$2.5 million

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 19 October, 2017, 6:48pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 19 October, 2017, 8:35pm

The director of a Hong Kong-listed company and a bank manager from mainland China became the latest victims of phone scams in two separate cases earlier this week after losing more than HK$2.5 million to con artists posing as officers.

At about 4pm on Wednesday, the director, 49, was duped out of $1.9 million yuan (HK$2.24 million) in six hours after he received a call on his mobile phone from a woman claiming to be a Hong Kong immigration officer.

“The con artist accused the victim of breaking the law on the mainland and then the call was transferred to a man who claimed to be a police officer from Shanghai,” a police source said. “He was asked to pay money as surety.”

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As instructed, the victim transferred the total sum to two mainland bank accounts in the next few hours.

He realised it was a scam after telling his friend about it. He then made a report at Central Police Station at about 10.30pm on the same day.

On Wednesday, a mainland woman, 37, who is a bank manager, was conned out of 250,000 yuan (HK$295,000) in a similar case, police said. She had arrived in the city the day before.

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At about 1pm on Wednesday, the woman received a call from a man claiming to be an immigration officer and accusing her of being involved in a criminal case.

“She was instructed to transfer 250,000 yuan to a bank account on the mainland to prove her innocence,” the source said.

She only realised later that she had been scammed, and went to Wan Chai Police Station to make a report shortly before 6pm.

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In the first eight months of the year, 490 phone scam cases in which scammers posed as mainland officials were reported, totalling HK$154 million in losses. The number of cases was double that reported in the same period last year.

Another police source said there was a surge in the number of cases in July: 139 reports of phone scams involving HK$24 million.

The source added that most of the victims in July were mainland students in Hong Kong and local students who were studying overseas but had returned to Hong Kong for the summer holidays.

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

The largest scam was in March last year, when a businessman was cheated out of HK$58 million.