A plague of phone scams that has dogged Hong Kong will continue despite a fall in the number of cases reported to police this month, the security minister warned yesterday. Secretary for Security Lai Tung-kwok said the downward trend appeared to be a result of collaboration between local police and their mainland counterparts and a publicity drive that has helped people recognise attempts to cheat them. The scam typically sees fraudsters, speaking Cantonese or Putonghua, tell victims they have broken mainland laws. They are then directed to bogus law enforcers or pointed towards fake government websites that display forged arrest warrants. The victims are told to remit money to bank accounts on the mainland to settle matters. The funds are then quickly transferred to many different accounts to avoid detection. Hongkongers have handed over more than HK$182 million in the wave of scams. Lai was, however, coy on where the phone calls were made from. "These fraudsters are scattered in other districts," he said. "But because of the ongoing investigations and liaisons with other law enforcement agencies, it is not appropriate for us at this stage to point out how many calls were made from which particular districts." Lai did not quantify the fall in the number of cases. Police had said the number of phone scams increased in the early part of this month, with scammers taking HK$56.72 million from 39 residents in the first 14 days. Lai said authorities needed to consolidate the latest data before it could be released. Separately, Lai declined to say when the government would cancel its warning against non-essential travel to Bangkok after Thai authorities arrested a man on Saturday in connection with the bomb blast that killed 20 people, including two Hongkongers. He said he was "very happy" to see progress being made and that the government would continue to monitor the situation. "As we still have to make some observations about the local situation, I am unable to give a timetable for now. But as you can see, things are quickly returning to normal there and we will closely monitor the situation and adjust the outbound travel alert accordingly," Lai said.