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.
Authorities said scammers targeted an elderly woman living in a mansion on The Peak, Hong Kong’s most luxurious neighborhood.
The criminals contacted the unnamed woman last summer pretending to be Chinese public security officials. According to the report. They claimed her identity had been used in a serious criminal case in mainland China.
She was told she needed to transfer money from her bank account into accounts held by the investigation team for safekeeping and scrutiny, the South China Morning Post reported, citing police sources.
Police said several days later a person arrived at her house with a dedicated mobile phone and SIM card for her to use in communicating with the fake security agents who persuaded her to make a total of 11 bank transfers.
Over five months, the elderly woman transferred a total of HK$250 million (£23million) to the scammers, the largest sum recorded yet by a phone scammer.
Police said the scam was only discovered because the elderly woman’s domestic help thought something suspicious was happening and contacted her employer’s daughter who then alerted officers.
After an investigation, a 19-year-old was arrested for fraud and has been released on bail, police said.
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.
Hong Kong’s elderly are plagued by phone scammers who seek out vulnerable and wealthy victims willing to transfer money or make bogus investments.
In 2020, police said they handled 1,193 phone scam cases where a total of HK$574 million was stolen.
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