Police cases involving fraudulent telephone calls in Hong Kong are said to have jumped more than ten-fold in the first five months of this year compared to the same period in 2014.
The police received 33 cases as of end-May, against just three in the corresponding period last year, Apple Daily reported, citing chief inspector Lam Cheuk-ho of Kowloon East regional crime unit.
Swindlers succeeded in 19 cases, causing the victims — whose ages ranged from 18 to 68, to suffer combined loss of HK$13 million, Lam said.
In the biggest case, a single victim was said to have been cheated out of as much as HK$8 million.
The police found that all the cases involved calls from fraudsters from outside Hong Kong. Meanwhile, all the victims were said to have had Chinese bank accounts and mainland mobile phone numbers.
The fraudsters are believed to have gotten information on the victims through illegal channels.
In many cases, a swindler calls up a person pretending to be a bank employee or a courier agency official.
The victim is told over the phone that he is suspected of laundering money or that his parcel contains forbidden goods. Then, another swindler, pretending to be a policeman, calls up the person and asks him to provide his bank account details so that the police can carry out necessary checks.
Victims are directed to fake bank or police websites and asked to key in their personal information, following which a fraudulent bank fund transfer takes place.
Lam noted that the cases are not easy to solve as the swindlers usually make calls from outside the city.
The police have enhanced cooperation with mainland authorities to jointly track down the swindlers and the stolen funds, he said.
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