Hong Kong saw a more than two-fifth increase in the number of reported deception cases in the first half of the year, according to official statistics released on Monday.
The number of deception cases rose to 12,326 cases in the first half of the year, a significant increase of 41.7 percent or 3,627 cases from the same period last year.
Over 70 percent of the reports were internet-related.
Online shopping fraud (3,954 cases), employment fraud (1,706 cases), investment fraud (1,271 cases) and telephone deception (786 cases) recorded the largest reported increases, ranging from 40 percent to about four fold.
Authorities said the huge amount of losses due to investment fraud and telephone deception cases, which totalled over HK$700 million (US$89 million) and HK$400 million respectively, remained a cause for concern.
For investment fraud, the most common modes of operation used by scammers were romance scams and investment fraud, including the use of fake investment applications to deceive victims.
For telephone deception, cases of culprits pretending to be officials and asking the victims to guess who they are remained the prevalent modus operandi used by scammers.
Police said that they have been tackling deception cases by mounting intelligence-led operations and neutralizing multiple deception syndicates in the past six months with the arrest of over 250 people involved in over 1,000 cases of online shopping fraud, online employment fraud, online investment fraud, telephone deception, etc estimated to have defrauded the public out of $500 million in total.
Police urged the public to stay vigilant when receiving unfamiliar telephone calls purporting to be from government officials across the boundary or telephone calls regarding detained parcels.
If in doubt, police said the public should immediately call 18222, their 24-hour anti-scam helpline.
Overall, a total of 31,434 crimes were recorded in the first half of 2022, showing an increase of 563 cases or 1.8 percent when compared with 30,871 cases over the same period in 2021.
Blackmail and homicide cases also registered significant increases.
A total of 16 cases of homicide were recorded in the first half of the year, representing an increase of six cases (60 percent) from the same time last year.
Eleven cases involved domestic or family violence. All of the cases have been investigated.
A total of 921 cases of blackmail were recorded, representing an increase of 214 cases or 30.3 percent when compared with the same period of last year.
The upsurge was mainly attributed to blackmail related to naked chats, totalling 708 cases, which is an increase of 215 cases.
Students remained the largest group of victims, making up 25 percent of the total.
Meanwhile, as of June 30, police have arrested a total of 201 people related to the National Security Law.
Out of those, over half of the arrestees have been charged.
As of mid-July, the recently launched counter-terrorism hotline received a total of over 3,800 messages.
However, substantial decreases were also registered in various major crimes.
The number of cases of robbery, burglary, rape, wounding and serious assault, snatching, pickpocketing and theft from vehicle hit a new record low since half yearly figures were maintained in 1977.
The detection rate of overall crimes in the first half of 2022 was 30.6 percent.