A 25-year-old man has claimed that he lost HK$500,000 to phone scammers who pretended to be from the central government’s liaison office in Hong Kong and mainland police.
The man, who lives in Sau Mau Ping in Kwun Tong, said he received on Monday a warning over the phone that his bank account would be suspended as he was involved in money-laundering activity.
Claiming to be mainland officials, the callers told the man to transfer half a million Hong Kong dollars to a designated bank account if he wants to avoid a freeze on his funds, according to a Ming Pao Daily report.
The man, who bears the surname Wong, then went to an ATM machine and discovered that his bank card was not working.
Fearing that his account has indeed been frozen, Wong went to a currency exchange shop and transferred HK$500,000 as instructed, hoping that his bank account will be unlocked.
Later Wong is said to have enquired with his bank and realized that he fell victim to a scam.
Apparently, someone had reported to the bank earlier that Wong had lost his card, prompting the bank authorities to invalidate the card as a safety measure.
That was the reason why Wong was unable to use the card at the ATM machine, and not due to any total freeze on his bank account.
Following the phone scamming incident, a complaint has been lodged with the police.
Wong, who is a university graduate, said he had planned to use the money to make down-payment for an apartment.
But now his plans have gone up in the air.
The police’s criminal investigation department has launched an investigation into the case.
The Hong Kong Monitory Authority, meanwhile, said on Monday that banks received nearly a thousand inquiries related to phone calls in the past week.
It warned residents about a new phone scam in which some people are apparently seeking personal data for illegal gain.
Some residents revealed that they received pre-recorded voice messages from a number that looks similar to HKMA’s hotline number.
The callers are informed that there is some problem with their bank accounts or credit cards, and that they should input their personal data for verification purposes.
If the phone call recipients comply with the request, parties get access to vital information, which could lead to various frauds.
Following the rising number of scams, the HKMA and the Hong Kong Association of Banks have warned citizens to be careful and not respond to any unverified telephone messages related to their accounts.
If anyone receives suspicious phone calls or messages, they should immediately contact their bank or the police, they said.
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