Phone scammers are fine-tuning their tactics as more people are becoming wary of calls from strangers.
The fraudsters have been giving out phone numbers of actual mainland officials to would-be victims but the bulk of their scheme is unchanged, Apple Daily reports, citing Lam Cheuk-ho, chief inspector in the Kowloon East regional crime unit.
Lam said the victims can verify the numbers, making the hoax more convincing.
Fraudsters have been following a pattern in targeting potential victims using fictitious phone numbers.
It starts with a call from a courier company employee that an illegal package has been found in the victim’s shipment.
The call is directed to an accomplice purporting to be a police officer or mainland official who offers help to fix the problem for a fee.
Another asks the victim for bank details after which outbound transfers are made by the scammers, often emptying the account.
Lam said 1,423 phone scams involving fake mainland officials were recorded last year compared with 23 in 2014.
Victims have lost a combined HK$290 million (US$37.35 million).
As of March 8, there had been 84 such cases, including a 53-year-old Yuen Long millionaire who lost HK$58 million on Friday.
One in five of all victims last year was a housewife. The others included mainland immigrants and students.
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