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Crime

Woman, 23, latest Hong Kong phone scam victim with HK$136,000 lost to fraudsters posing as mainland officials

  • Case comes amid 133 per cent surge over past four months, with most of them involving mainland and local tertiary students
PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 14 November, 2018, 3:05pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 14 November, 2018, 3:07pm

A 23-year-old Hong Kong woman has been cheated out of 121,000 yuan (HK$136,000) by fraudsters posing as mainland officials on the phone, becoming the latest victim as such scams more than doubled citywide over the past four months.

The woman, who lives in May Shing Court, Sha Tin, received a call from a man impersonating a law enforcement agent from across the border, according to police.

“She was accused of being involved in a criminal case and ordered to reveal her bank information,” police said in a statement. As instructed, she complied with the con artist.

Girl, 14, among 82 students to lose HK$7.6 million in phone scams over 4 months

She realised it was a scam when she later found out the money had been transferred from her bank to another account, and called police at 9.17pm on Tuesday.

Detectives from the Sha Tin criminal investigation unit are handling the case. No arrests have been made.

Between July and October, police handled 138 phone scam cases involving fake mainland officials – a 133 per cent rise compared with 59 reports in the first six months this year.

The 138 victims scammed in the past four months included 82 mainland and Hong Kong students who were conned out of HK$7.6 million (US$970,000) in total.

Among the cases was a first-year university student from the mainland, who was duped out of HK$950,000 in mid-September. The youngest victim was a 14-year-old girl who was accused of breaking mainland law and convinced into transferring HK$27,000 to a mainland bank account in the same month.

Hong Kong businessman cheated out of record HK$58m in phone scam

Among the 82 students, 17 per cent were working on a master’s degree or PhD, 60 per cent were bachelor’s degree students, while 7 per cent were in secondary school. The remaining 16 per cent were studying diploma or sub-degree programmes.

The surge had prompted the force to issue an alert on its website warning the public to be on the lookout for scammers.

In the whole of last year, police handled 698 phone scam cases involving bogus mainland officials.

The city’s biggest telephone deception case involved a 52-year-old Yuen Long resident conned out of more than HK$58 million in 2016.

Many of those falling prey received pre-recorded calls from swindlers pretending to be the staff of couriers firms, telecom companies or the Hong Kong Immigration Department, before the calls were transferred to fraudsters impersonating officers from mainland public security departments.

Victims are often accused of violating mainland laws. They are then assured by scammers posing as mainland police officers that their case will be investigated properly if they transfer funds to a designated bank account as surety.