Doctor victim in $3.7m phone scam

Police are looking for a Chinese conman after a 73-year-old retired female doctor from the mainland was cheated out of 3.27 million yuan (HK$3.76 million) in the latest telephone scam.

Sum Lok-kei

Monday, July 17, 2017

Police are looking for a Chinese conman after a 73-year-old retired female doctor from the mainland was cheated out of 3.27 million yuan (HK$3.76 million) in the latest telephone scam.

The victim, surnamed Tan, received a call recently from a woman claiming to be an immigration officer from Hong Kong. The call was then referred to a man who said he was a mainland law enforcer.

According to Tan, she was told she had been involved in a mainland criminal case, and was instructed to open an account with a mainland bank. After depositing a total of 3.27 million yuan in eight transactions, Tan got a call telling her to meet a man in Wan Chai to hand over her e-banking security devices.

Having complied with the requests up to that point, Tan reported the case to the police on Saturday, realizing it was all a scam.

The case was listed as "obtaining property by deception," and is being followed up by the Wan Chai district investigation team.

No arrests had been made yet.

Police are apparently seeking a Chinese male suspect, aged between 30 and 40, who speaks Putonghua. He is about 1.65 meters in height, and described as fat.

This latest case came after dozens of students fell prey to similar scams earlier this year. According to the police, between January and April, there were 26 cases of telephone scams involving university students - mostly mainlanders - who were cheated out of some HK$8 million in total.

The victims were usually told they were under criminal investigation, then asked to disclose their banking passwords and personal details for "audits" or "background checks," before being instructed to make deposits to mainland bank accounts.

Earlier this month, the Immigration Department warned the public about phone scams perpetrated by criminals pretending to be immigration officers.

"The [department] would not transfer calls to other non-local authorities, and will not ask the call recipients to provide such information as bank account numbers and passwords," a spokesman said.