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Student busted over phone scams

Local | Riley Chan Jul 18, 2017
A 21-year-old university student was arrested in connection with four telephone scams that occurred over eight days, with three victims having been cheated out of HK$1.5 million in total.

One 19-year-old victim called the police after being told to hand over HK$50,000 to the suspect at Kwai Chung MTR station on July 9. Police identified the suspect in security camera footage in Tin Shui Wai in the early hours of Sunday and arrested her on a charge of obtaining property by deception.

Police believe a phone scam syndicate rewarded her with HK$14,000. The syndicate cheated victims by claiming to be government officials before accusing them of violating the laws in the mainland and asking for money.

Separately, a 14-year-old girl became the youngest victim of a similar phone scam after being duped out of HK$7,500 by an "immigration officer" and a "mainland official" on July 5.

She was instructed to transfer the cash to a mainland bank account to prove her innocence over a money laundering case.

According to police, six other secondary school students were also cheated out of a total of HK$100,000 over the phone by bogus mainland officials between July 3 and July 9. In that period there were 33 reports of phone scams involving bogus mainland officials.

University students also fell prey to similar scams. There were 26 cases of telephone scams involving university students, mostly mainlanders, who were tricked out of HK$8 million in total between January and April, police said.

On Sunday, a 73-year-old retired female doctor from the mainland also reported a similar scam in which she was swindled out of HK$3.76 million by an "immigration officer."

Police are now looking for a Chinese male suspect, aged between 30 and 40, who speaks Putonghua.

In the first five months of this year, police handled 374 telephone scam cases in which victims lost a total of HK$128 million, and 253 of the cases involved fraudsters posing as officials.



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