20 February 2019
Police have praised two foreign domestic helpers who helped save their elderly employers from phone scammers. (Representative images). Source: HKEJ, internet
Police have praised two foreign domestic helpers who helped save their elderly employers from phone scammers. (Representative images). Source: HKEJ, internet

Vigilant domestic helpers save aged employers from phone scams

Two domestic helpers from Indonesia have saved their elderly employers in Hong Kong from falling victim to telephone scammers.

One case involved a 78-year-old lady who was being cared for by a maid named Wiwik, Sing Tao Daily reports.

According to the paper, Wiwik’s employer received a call on Dec. 6 from a man who claimed to be the lady’s son living in Canada.

The “son” claimed that he was in trouble and asked his mum to wire him some money.

The senior citizen could have fallen for the trap but for some quick thinking and alertness shown by her Indonesian maid.

As the caller provided a telephone number and asked his mother to write it down, Wiwik became suspicious.

She wondered how her employer’s son was not aware that his mother had suffered a stroke and that she was having problems moving her hands.

Wiwik’s suspicions only grew as she discovered that the 8-digit number the caller had provided was not a Canadian one, but from somewhere else.

She dialed a number of her employer’s son in Canada and found that the son made no such call to Hong Kong.

When the scamster called the next day, the maid — who has worked in Hong Kong for more than a decade — questioned him and told him that his claims did not add up.  

Refusing to give up, the person called the following day and said that he was in fact not in Canada but on a trip to mainland China.

He claimed that he had been detained by the Chinese police for soliciting a prostitute, and that he was calling his mother as he needs 20,000 yuan to secure bail.

But the trick didn’t work as Wiwik convinced her employer that the caller was an imposter. 

She then reported the matter to the police.

In another case, an Indonesian domestic helper named Istikomah also came to the rescue of her employer last month following a phone scam attempt.

In early December, a man called up Istikomah’s employer pretending to be the 85-year-old woman’s son.

As in the first case, this man also said that he was in trouble and that he urgently needed money. 

He asked his mother to wire him HK$30,000.

Istikomah became suspicious and placed a call to the employer’s real son, as she knew that the son would always give his mother money instead of the other way around.

The son then informed them that he had never made any call asking for money.

Thanks to the vigilance of the maid, another potential scam was averted.

Duncan McCosh, chief of Kowloon East Region police, issued certificates of commendation to both Wiwik and Istikomah on Wednesday.

The Indonesian Consul General Tri Tharyat, meanwhile, said he was proud of what the maids did for their employers.

The police department has received a total of 1,138 reports on phone scams that involved combined loss of more than HK$21.58 million last year.

The department hopes foreign maids who take care of old people will stay vigilant and protect their employers from phone scams.

On Wednesday, the Kowloon East Regional Headquarters police held a seminar for dozens of Indonesian maids to enhance their awareness on assisting in fighting crimes.

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