“Hi, this is a call from the Liaison Office in Hong Kong. You have a problematic parcel. Please press zero for enquiry.”
Many Hong Kong people may have received such pre-recorded voice mail through their phones over the past two months. Some may have received it a number of times in the course of one day.
This morning, we talked to a scammer who claimed he was a staff member of the Liaison Office. After asking for the phone number and the name of our reporter, who used a fake name, Chan Man-sun, the man started his talk.
Scammer (S): Mr. Chan, we need to inform you that today we got a document from the inspection bureau, saying that you had sent out a parcel through FedEx in your name on July 28. Is that correct?
Reporter (R): Yes.
S: Send from where to where?
R: From Shenzhen to Hong Kong.
S: Oh … you probably meant from Hong Kong. Let me say it clearer … we got a notice from the Fuzhou Inspection Bureau… (repeating the accusation) … your parcel’s got some problems and it has been detained by the customs. Was that sent by you or a person you appointed?
R: Ah, yes … sorry, I forgot. I sent that from Hong Kong. But it should be on July 27.
S: Sent to Fuzhou on July 27?
S: What’s inside?
R: It’s a box with clothes inside.
S: The detained parcel contains some prohibited goods. Is the thing needed by your company?
R: Why would there prohibited goods? I’ve asked people to check it before sending.
S: You mean you sent it but those things are not yours?
R: Yes, I asked someone to send it July 27. Perhaps he sent it the following day.
S: Did you have a receipt when you asked someone to send it for you?
R: No. So what should I do?
S: Perhaps someone has used your identity to send that.
R: Maybe. But now it has been forfeited. Let it be.
S: Don’t you want to chase it back?
R: No, the clothes are not expensive.
S: You should contact the Fuzhou Inspection Bureau and tell them about this. Otherwise, they can fine or punish you. (He dropped the line.)
Usually, such phone call is followed up by a second scammer who claims to be from the “mainland police”. However, that call has yet come.
According to the Hong Kong police, a third of 729 such phone scams reported in July were successful, resulting in the loss of HK$85.4 million (US$11 million). Most of the victims were women aged 50 and under.
On Friday, police arrested a man in Kwai Fong Estate in Kowloon who was able to fleece his victim of HK$410,000 by pretending to be a mainland police officer over several phone calls.
Separately, a 30-year-old woman, surnamed Tsang, who claimed to be a Hong Kong anti-graft inspector in a similar phone scam, was charged with attempt to defraud in the Eastern Magistrates’ Courts on Friday. She was allowed to post a bail of HK$10,000 but was barred from leaving Hong Kong.
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