At least five people lost a combined HK$6 million in the past two weeks to phone scams in which the callers identified themselves as mainland officials, Ta King Pao reported on Friday.
The number of phone scam incidents involving “mainland officials” has soared to 200 cases in the first half of the year, from four in the same period last year.
In June alone, at least 167 cases involving the same phone scam were reported to the police.
The latest victim, a 45-year-old woman surnamed Yeung, lost more than HK$2 million to a male caller who claimed to be an official of China’s Liaison Office in Hong Kong.
Yeung received the call in mid-July and was told that she was under suspicion of some criminal offences.
The caller asked the woman to deposit HK$1.3 million to a mainland bank account in compliance with the investigation being conducted by mainland law-enforcement authorities.
On Thursday morning, Yeung received another call from the same person, asking her to deposit another 820,000 yuan in another mainland bank account.
The caller even told Yeung to go to the Liaison Office on 160 Connaught Road West to inquire about the progress of the investigation into her case.
Yeung did go to the Liaison Office, where she learned that she had been cheated in a phone scam.
The Tai Po police regional crime unit is now on the case.
Police said the phone scam has variations with the callers sometimes identifying themselves as officials of the Monetary Authority or the Hong Kong Post, and even used phone numbers similar to hotlines of these organizations.
In some of the cases, the targets received recorded instructions, which, if they followed, would divert the call to partners who would identify themselves as members of the mainland public security police or judiciary staff.
In other cases, the scam artists would create counterfeit warrants and post their targets’ personal information on fake websites of mainland law enforcement agencies.
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