The criminal fraud numbers reported in the 18 June 2022 edition of the South China Morning Post are staggering with the headline reading “Fraudsters swindled HK$1.28 billion from more than 6,000 Hongkongers through online, phone scams in first 4 months of the year”. The bowers.law team regularly handles email / banking fraud scams and rom cons and gives Top Tips on how not to become a victim and if you do, how to try to recover your money. Please do all that you can to protect yourself from becoming a fraud statistic !
Don’t become a fraud statistic !
The headline in the 18 June 2022 edition of the South China Morning Post reads “Fraudsters swindled HK$1.28 billion from more than 6,000 Hongkongers through online, phone scams in first 4 months of the year”. These are the scary numbers according to the Hong Kong Police Force:
- HK$1.28 billion (US$163 million) swindled from more than 6,000 Hongkongers during the first 4 months of 2022
- nearly ¼ of the money victims lost was swindled through email fraud in which 102 companies and 25 people were duped out of HK$333 million
- phone scammers pocketed HK$280 million in 481 cases out of which 102 victims lost HK$144 million with scammers using covid-related ruses to con unsuspecting victims
- 486 people were conned out of HK$250 million in online investment frauds
- 510 victims lost over HK$235 million in rom cons
- 860 jobseekers were cheated out of HK$100 million
- The biggest email scam involved an overseas investment firm conned out of US$9.6 million
- the amount of money scammers pocketed in the first 4 months of 2022 was 17% higher than the HK$85.3 million residents lost in 1,063 reported cases in the whole of 2021 – in 2020, there were 236 cases involving total losses of HK$10.5 million
- in 2021, the Hong Kong Police handled 549 reports of email fraud in 2021 with scammers bagging about HK$1.54 billion
- fraudsters netted nearly HK$3 billion in 13,859 cases on online deception in the whole of 2021
Worryingly, the total figures for 2022 should dwarf the 2021 numbers (which are already enormous).
Common scams in Hong Kong include:
- con-artists impersonating Mainland Chinese law enforcement agencies, accusing targets of breaking the law and instructing them to pay a surety or to disclose their online banking details as part of an ongoing (fabricated) criminal investigation
- boosting sales scams – a type of employment fraud involving fraudsters sending fake job offers such as “order handlers” by SMS or other instant messaging apps offering unemployed victims financial rewards (commissions) and employment for e-shopping
- social media rom cons in which the cruel-hearted scammers entice their love-struck marks by offers of romantic relationships to persuade them into “investing” in investment vehicles or crypto exchanges
- impersonation of finance managers / CEOs / CFOs / customers / suppliers by emails (after hacking into a company’s – usually a SME, but sometimes also listed companies – email system or (more usually) creating fake email accounts) asking for the redirection of payment funds to the fraudsters’ nominated bank accounts (the highest value one of these email / banking scams which the bowers.law team has handled is US$13 million)
Due to the international nature of the scams (with each of the scammers, victims and funds often in different jurisdictions as part of a fraud triangle), recovery rates are relatively erratic and arrests pretty rare. The trick is to act quick to maximise your recovery !
The numbers don’t lie (unlike the scammers) !
Room 228 Newsletters
Why do employees commit fraud? – Bowers Law (July 2020)
Watch out, watch out, there’s a fraudster about! – Bowers Law (August 2020)
Don’t make it easy for the hackers! – Bowers Law (October 2020)
I’m a victim of an email bank fraud, please help me to get my money back! – Bowers Law (January 2021)
Don’t be a victim of a Rom-Con…If it looks too good to be true, it almost certainly is! – Bowers Law (April 2021)
If something seems too good to be true, it probably is ! – Bowers Law (June 2021)
Please contact Kevin at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions about this Room 228 Newsletter.
This Newsletter is not intended to be and should not be relied on as legal advice. You should seek professional legal advice before taking any action in relation to the subject-matter of this Newsletter.