End scams with vigilance and common sense
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.