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90-year-old Hong Kong woman loses $32m in phone scam

A 90-year-old Hong Kong woman has been conned out of US$32million by fraudsters posing as Chinese officials, police said, in the city’s biggest recorded phone scam.

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 said scammers targeted an elderly woman living in a mansion on The Peak, Hong Kong’s ritziest neighbourhood.

Last summer, criminals contacted the unnamed woman pretending to be Chinese public security officials. 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 ones 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 to communicate with the fake security agents who persuaded her to make a total of 11 bank transfers. 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.

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. After an investigation, a 19-year-old was arrested for fraud and has been released on bail, police said.

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Source: eNCA

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