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Scams and swindles

Hong Kong phone scam victim loses HK$11.7 million

Recent immigrant duped by callers posing as mainland law enforcers, in con similar to those which have raked in millions from other city residents in last few years

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 29 August, 2017, 12:15pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 31 August, 2017, 10:46pm

An investment analyst has become the latest big-money victim of a phone scam in Hong Kong after two con artists – one posing as a mainland official – duped him out of HK$11.7 million in a month.

The 29-year-old man, who works for an investment company in North Point, realised he had been scammed and reported it to local police on Monday night, after losing contact with the supposed mainland official for about a week, a police source said on Tuesday.

“As instructed, the victim transferred about 9 million yuan (HK$10.6 million) and HK$1.1 million into more than 10 bank accounts on the mainland and in Hong Kong between July 22 and August 22,” the source said.

On July 21 the victim, believed to be a recent immigrant from the mainland, got a call from a man claiming to work for a courier company. The caller said a parcel addressed to the man was thought to be linked to a criminal case.

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“The caller was transferred to another man who claimed to be a mainland police officer,” the source said. “The victim was then accused of being involved in money laundering and ordered to transfer money into designated bank accounts for investigative purposes.”

As instructed, the victim transferred about HK$11.7 million into the local and mainland bank accounts.

After realising it was a scam, the victim went to Wan Chai Police Station on Monday night to report it.

Police said phone scammers typically pose as mainland security officials and accuse victims of breaking the law. They then demand large amounts of money to settle the problem.

Police said mainland law enforcers would never ask someone to hand over money to prove their innocence or request they give online banking passwords over the phone or the internet.

In the first six months of this year, phone scammers posing as mainland officials cheated 293 victims out of HK$109.6 million. There were 176 cases, involving a total of HK$98.1 million, in the same period last year.

The largest loss ever recorded in the city for a phone scam came in March last year, when a businessman from Yuen Long was cheated out of HK$58 million.