A 52-year-old woman in Hong Kong has lost HK$8.08 million (US$1.04 million) as some crooks stole her identity and used it to pull money from her bank accounts.
The lady, who lives in a luxury apartment at the Valverde building on May Road at Central Mid-Levels, lost her identity card in September and was awaiting a replacement.
The card is believed to have fallen into the hands of some people who used it to perpetrate a massive fraud, Apple Daily reports.
Investigations have shown that money was withdrawn from three bank accounts of the woman, who bears the surname Cheung.
Police suspect a meticulous plot in which thieves deployed a woman to assume the identity of Cheung and make cash withdrawals and transfers.
The female accomplice, who is believed to bear a physical resemblance to Cheung, was apparently taught to forge the signature of the rich woman.
Cheung wasn’t aware of the fraud until Wednesday when she found that there was no signal on her mobile phone and made inquiries with her phone company.
The phone company told her that her service was suspended following an application in her name that carried a copy of her ID card.
As Cheung had made no such application, she realized that something was wrong. Suspecting that her identity was stolen, she immediately rushed to her banks to check up on her accounts.
Following visits to the HSBC Queens Road Central branch and two braches of Bank of China (Hong Kong) in Central and Tsim Sha Tsui, she discovered that all the money in her accounts at the banks had gone.
She then called the police.
According to initial investigations by the crime unit of Central Police District, a woman who resembled the victim first went to the phone company, pretending to be the victim and asking for suspension of phone connection.
The woman presented the victim’s ID card and faked her signature when requesting the service.
The swindler then used the ID card to withdraw HK$90,000 from Cheung’s HSBC account before transferring a combined HK$7.99 million from her two accounts with Bank of China (Hong Kong).
The police believe the reason she could successfully fool bank staff was that she may have borne a strong resemblance to the victim and that her signature was also similar to that of Chueng.
Given the modus operandi, police believe the whole thing had been planned meticulously.
Spokesmen for two banks involved declined to comment on the matter, merely saying that the case is under investigation.
According to barrister Luk Wai-hung, Cheung might be able to get compensation from the banks if the staff are found to have been negligent in checks before allowing the cash withdrawal and money transfers.
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