February 14, 2022 In police, record

Police record sharp rise in romance scams

Aemilius Cupero News:

The police have reported a sharp rise in romance investment scams, with victims losing HK$360 million between them last year.

The force had 642 such cases in 2021, a more than two-fold increase compared with the year before.

Detectives said people aged between 21 and 50, and women in particular, are extra vulnerable to this type of scam, where victims – who believe they’ve found love online – are tricked into handing over money for fake investments.

The single largest loss recorded last year involved a 65-year-old retired woman who said she was conned out of HK$17.8 million after putting money into a virtual currency investment app.

Meanwhile, police said fewer elderly people had fallen prey to telephone scams last year, but more mainland students were swindled.

The force said there were 1,140 telephone fraud cases, down 4.4 percent from 2020, but the total losses reported rose more than 40 percent to HK$811 million.

Officers said the increase was mainly due to a single case, where a 90-year-old woman lost HK$250 million to con artists.

Police said that following a series of publicity campaigns, the number of victims aged 61 and above fell from 200 in 2020, to 70 in 2021.

What’s worrying, officers said, was that more university students from the mainland got conned by people pretending to be officials, with the number of such cases doubling to about 190.

One 21-year-old student is said to have lost HK$3 million in seven days.

In all, the force received a total of 19,249 scam cases of various kinds last year, a 24 percent year-on-year rise.

Police have set up an Anti-Deception Coordination Centre, under the Commercial Crime Bureau, to combat scams.

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