Hong Kong woman loses HK$10 million in ‘black money’ scam
Middle-aged Hongkonger believed blackened banknote-sized paper could be turned back into genuine legal tender by applying liquid chemical
A middle-aged Hongkonger lost HK$10 million (US$1.27 million) in a scam in which she transferred more than HK$8 million to buy a special liquid chemical to recover blackened banknotes.
The 50-year-old Tseung Kwan O resident, surnamed Ma, told police on Saturday that two con men duped her out of the amount between January and June this year. Ma met the first fraudster on social media. Citing different reasons, the man told her to transfer HK$1.7 million to six bank accounts in mainland China and Hong Kong from January 10 to March 29. She had yet to meet him in person.
In April, the man told Ma to safeguard money belonging to him, worth US$1.5 million, and set up a meeting on the mainland with his friend.
The friend, a foreign national, met Ma on May 3 and showed her how to turn blackened banknote-sized paper back into bank notes by applying a liquid chemical. Ma believed him and within one month, starting from May 9 and running to June 4, she transferred HK$8.3 million to six bank accounts to buy the special chemicals.
The victim called police when she suspected it was all a scam. No arrests have been made, and investigations were continuing.
In “black money” scams, con artists typically tell their victims they have piles of black paper, claiming they are genuine banknotes dyed to avoid the detection of authorities in war-torn countries. The victims are asked to buy extremely expensive chemicals to remove the dye and are usually promised a share of the recovered money.
Such scams in the city date back to the 1990s. In 2016, a torture claimant from Libya was arrested for cheating a Hong Kong woman he met on Skype out of US$1 million to buy a special liquid to recover US banknotes he claimed to have blackened on purpose when trying to get the money out of his home country.