90-year-old woman conned out of $32 million by phone fraudsters

Police said several days later a person arrived at her house with a dedicated mobile phone and SIM card to communicate with the fake security agents who persuaded her to make a total of 11 bank transfers. Police on Tuesday said scammers targeted an elderly woman living in a mansion on The Peak, Hong Kong’s ritziest neighborhood. It boasts one of the highest concentrations of billionaires, many of whom live in palatial homes overlooking densely packed districts where poor families might squeeze into an apartment the size of an American car parking space. The South China Morning Post reported that the arrested person is believed to have been the fraudster who turned up at the lady’s house with the phone. After an investigation a 19-year-old was arrested for fraud and has been released on bail, police said. DuKai/Getty

Last summer criminals contacted the unnamed woman pretending to be Chinese public security officials. With such a high concentration of wealthy elderly residents, the city makes a ripe target for phone scammers, many of whom operate across the border in mainland China. They claimed her identity had been used in a serious criminal case in mainland China. In 2020, police said they handled 1,193 phone scam cases where a total of HK$574 million was stolen. She was told she needed to transfer money from her bank account into ones held by the investigation team for safekeeping and scrutiny, the South China Morning Post reported, citing police sources. Wealthy Hong Kong is one of the most unequal places on earth. Hong Kong’s elderly are plagued by phone scammers who seek out vulnerable and wealthy victims willing to transfer money or make bogus investments. Police say such scams are on the rise. 90-year-old woman conned out of $32 million by fraudsters in Hong Kong’s biggest ever phone scam

April 21, 2021 / 6:11 AM
/ AFP

Hong Kong — A 90-year-old Hong Kong woman has been conned out of $32 million by fraudsters posing as Chinese officials, police said, in the city’s biggest recorded phone scam. Over five months the elderly lady gave a total of HK$250 million ($32 million) to the scammers, the largest sum recorded yet by a phone con. Hong Kong’s skyline and Victoria Harbor are seen from Victoria Peak, a residential neighborhood overlooking the city. Reports of phone scams rose 18 per cent in the first quarter of 2021 with fraudsters pocketing some HK$350 million over the period. First published on April 21, 2021 / 6:11 AM Last year a 65-year-old woman was duped out of HK$68.9 million after a similar scheme where people posed as mainland security officials. Trending News

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Police said the scam was only spotted because the elderly lady’s domestic helper thought something suspicious was happening and contacted her employer’s daughter who then alerted officers.