Hong Kong has seen a spurt in extortion and scam cases in the first half of this year, although the overall number of criminal cases in the city fell 6 percent in the period to the lowest in 34 years, Apple Daily reported Thursday, citing statistics from the police.
In the six months to June, 422 blackmail and 4,372 scam cases were reported to police, up 68.8 percent and 22 percent respectively from a year earlier, according to the report. The number of bank robbery cases rose to four from two.
The rise in extortion and scam cases is mainly a result of online fraud and “naked chats”, Lo Mung-hung, Director of the Crime and Security Department, was quoted as saying at a news conference Wednesday. He was referring to the so-called sextortion cases, where people often fall prey after steamy chats with online acquaintances.
A joint operation by the Hong Kong police and several other overseas agencies in May helped authorities to successfully crack down on an organized crime group in the Philippines that engages in scams through online sex chats, the official said.
In other crimes, the number of household theft cases involving more than HK$500,000 (US$64,516) rose by 38 percent to 29 in the first half of the year.
Following the jump in theft cases, the police have promised to enhance patrols.
As for three cases that involved guns coming in through parcels earlier this year, the police said it has discussed with the Customs the need to strengthen checks on mail and packages.
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