End scams with vigilance and com­mon sense

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - COMMENT -

It used to be said that greed is the well­spring of scams. But with the amaz­ing new ar­ray of tricks de­ployed by IT-savvy mod­ern scam­mers, plain ig­no­rance must be added as an­other ma­jor fac­tor for suc­cess­ful scams. And more scam­mers are laugh­ing all the way to the bank as re­cently re­leased of­fi­cial statistics show that in the first 10 months of this year a to­tal of 2,600 cases of phone scams were recorded — a 41-per­cent in­crease from the same time last year.

This is de­spite seem­ingly suc­cess­ful crossborder and multi-ju­ris­dic­tional raids against phone-scam syn­di­cates based over­seas which tar­geted pri­mar­ily Chi­nese main­land and Hong Kong vic­tims. These syn­di­cates are be­lieved to be linked to the resur­gence of phone scam cases in Hong Kong this year.

The syn­di­cates were re­lated to at least 431 Hong Kong cases in which scam­mers posed as main­land of­fi­cials. Vic­tims had been swin­dled out of more than HK$100 mil­lion. A typ­i­cal case con­cerns a 51-year-old wo­man who was cheated out of about HK$8.2 mil­lion in a phone scam.

So are our po­lice fight­ing a los­ing bat­tle against the ever more cun­ning and re­source­ful scam­mers? A can­did answer would be that there can be no endgame to such cat-and-mouse strug­gles be­cause the minute the po­lice have caught up with the crim­i­nals over their lat­est scams, they have in­vented new ones.

Their lat­est tac­tics in­clude tele­phone con artists pos­ing as of­fi­cials from the main­land’s ju­di­ciary or from the cen­tral gov­ern­ment’s li­ai­son of­fice in Hong Kong as well as staff from courier firms, which usu­ally in­volved ask­ing the vic­tims to de­posit money in cer­tain bank ac­counts, with the warn­ing that not to do so would re­sult in dire con­se­quences.

Yet it’s not hard at all to counter such un­scrupu­lous tricks. Just lis­ten to a hard-nosed cop who had this to say: “If I were to be cruel I would say the stu­pid­ity of peo­ple never ceases to amaze me.” And he has this sim­ple piece of ad­vice: “It ap­plies now as it did be­fore, as it will in fu­ture and for time im­memo­rial: If you get a call from any­one ask­ing for money, hang up!”

In other words, there is no sub­sti­tute for plain com­mon sense and vigilance!

But to fight crooks who play on peo­ple’s vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties, our po­lice have also help­fully supplied guide­lines on de­tect­ing frauds and how to deal with tele­phone scams.

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