A total of 33 phone scams from swindlers posing as mainland law enforcement officers have been reported by Hongkongers in the first five months of this year, an 11-fold increase from the same period last year.
The con-artists, all based in the mainland, managed to cheat 19 of the victims out of a whopping 13 million HKD, according to SCMP.
The victims involved are students, businesspeople and insurance sellers aged from 18 to 68. All of them had mainland phone numbers and bank accounts and made frequent trips across the border.
Lam Cheuk-ho, chief inspector of the Kowloon East Regional crime unit, said that in most cases, the fraudsters called the victims pretending to be mainland law enforcement officers investigating a money laundering case.
Sometimes they posed as bank employees or delivery company staff and explained to victims that there’d been a problem with their bank account or delivery. In other cases, victims were told to go to fake websites where they’d end up typing in their ID card number, bank account number, passwords and more personal information.
One retired businessman had eight million HKD withdrawn from his account in March after getting duped by the swindlers.
“In many cases, the victims might have been scared by the calls,” Lam was quoted as saying in the report.
While it may seem like common sense to never, ever give your bank account information to somebody over the phone/transfer large sums of money to random accounts, a surprising number of people have fallen prey to these tricks. In 2013, two expats in Shanghai were swindled out of 24 million yuan in the largest telecom scam seen in the the city within several years.
Last year, Lust, Caution actress Tang Wei was cheated out of 210,000 by telecom swindlers in Shanghai.
Earlier this month is was reported that a group of international con-artists stole HK$8.65 million from a Hong Kong businessman by posing as agents interested in purchasing his €5 million Vincent van Gogh painting.