An elderly woman living in a mansion on The Peak was swindled out of HK$250 million (US$32 million) in a phone scam believed to be Hong Kong’s largest on record.
The 90-year-old wired the sum of money through 11 transactions between last August and January after scammers impersonating mainland police told her that her identity had been used in a “serious criminal case” across the border.
“She was promised that all the money would be given back to her after the investigation,” according to a Hong Kong police source quoted by the South China Morning Post.
The scam began when the woman—who lives in a mansion with two domestic workers and a driver—received a call from a man last July claiming to be mainland law enforcement.
A 19-year-old university student, also posing as mainland police operative, allegedly went to the woman’s home on Plunkett’s Road on The Peak, where he gave her a phone with a SIM card.
At one point, her bank asked the woman why she was making these unusually large transactions. She told them she was buying property on The Peak, and was not questioned any further.
The plot only came to light when one of the woman’s helpers became suspicious and alerted her daughter, police said. But the daughter did not immediately make a report, instead asking a relative to follow her mother and understand why she was making trips to the bank.
Last month, the daughter finally persuaded the woman to report the incident with the accompaniment of a lawyer. Police have since arrested the student who went to the woman’s home last July, with further arrests not ruled out.
Deception cases rose sharply last year, according to the police’s crime statistics. About 7,330 more cases were reported in 2020 than in 2019, an increase of almost 90%.
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