A wealthy 90-year-old woman in Hong Kong was defrauded for $ 32 million by criminals posing as Chinese authorities – reportedly the largest recorded phone fraud in the region.
The woman, who lives in a mansion in the posh neighborhood of The Peak, was attacked last summer by scammers claiming to be public security officers, the South China Morning Post reported.
“She was told that her identity had been used in a serious criminal case in mainland China,” a source told the point of sale. “She was then instructed to transfer her money to specific bank accounts to investigate whether the money was the proceeds of crime.”
The source added that the victim “was promised that all money will be returned to her after the investigation”.
A 19-year-old university student allegedly went to the woman’s home and gave her a cell phone to communicate with the scammer, the Morning Post source told the Morning Post.
As instructed, she transferred the huge sum through 11 transactions between August 2020 and January 2021 to three accounts, the police told the sales point.
One of the fraudsters also escorted the woman to a bank to conduct one of the transactions.
Police said the fraud was discovered after the victim’s domestic helper suspected something suspicious had happened and contacted her employer’s daughter, who then alerted police, Agence France-Presse reported.
According to the South China Morning Post, officials from the Kowloon East Regional Criminal Police Department arrested the 19-year-old last month and locked bank accounts worth over $ 1 million.
But the phone scammers have said goodbye to the rest.
Hong Kong has one of the world’s highest concentrations of billionaires, many of whom are older, which makes them vulnerable to such scams.
Phone fraud reports rose 18 percent in the first quarter of 2021, according to AFP. Fraudsters pocketed around $ 45 million during the reporting period.
Last year, a 65-year-old woman was defrauded of $ 10 million under a similar scheme in which people posed as security officers on the mainland, according to the news agency.