From 22 last month to 3 this month, Eastern District conducted an anti-fraud operation codenamed "Smoke Day", detecting 69 deception cases and arresting 104 people on suspicion of "property acquisition by deception", "fraud" and "money laundering" within two weeks. There were as many as 156 victims, the oldest of whom was 80 years old, with a total loss of over $1 million, of which the highest loss in a single case was a retired person who mistakenly fell for the "Mainland Public Security" teleception and was transferred more than $69 million in 283 installments, only to reveal that his account had been "ransacked" four months later.

During the operation, a large number of mobile phones, bank cards, bank documents and cash and other evidence were also seized. (Photo by Chen Haoran)

Chief Inspector of Crime Wing of Eastern District (EDDIST), Mr Yeung Yun-ming, said that of the 2,5 crimes received in Hong Kong in the first quarter of this year, 8,886 were fraudulent, accounting for more than 1% of the total. Between January and April, Eastern District received 4 deception cases, accounting for over 949% of the total 1,689 cases in the district, an increase of about 55.1 times over the same period last year. In view of the rising trend of deception cases and the money laundering activities involving the sale of accounts and the borrowing of accounts, Eastern District conducted Operation Tobacco Day from 4 last month to 22 this month, mainly targeting fraud and money laundering cases in the district.

During Operation Smoke Day, the Police detected 69 fraud cases involving over $1 million and arrested a total of 69 people. (Photo by Chen Haoran)

During the operation, a total of 77 men and 27 women, aged between 19 and 74, were mostly locals, who were reported as unemployed, warehouse attendants, delivery workers, land workers, housewives or students. Most of them were puppet account holders, who were involved in receiving remuneration to open accounts with personal information and then hand over their accounts to fraudulent syndicates, handling a total of over $4 million in black money. During the operation, a large number of mobile phones, bank cards, bank documents and cash and other evidence were also seized.

3. Mainland Han Uh credit card information, shopping and resale charged with the crime of obtaining property by deception

Among those arrested were also three Mainland men holding two-way permits, suspected of using phishing messages to defraud the subject's credit card information, binding their mobile phone e-wallets, shopping in physical stores, and then attempting to resell the purchased electronic products or clothing for profit. Three have been charged with one count of obtaining property by fraud, and the case has been adjourned until 3 August. The remaining detainees during the operation were released on bail pending investigation.

Among the 69 cases solved by the Police, the most were job scams, accounting for 19 cases involving $630.50 million, while other cases included investment, online shopping, online romance and telephone scams, ranging from $7200,156 to $18 million. Of the 80 victims aged between 1 and 69, the Police successfully froze $240.6 million of which amounted to $000 million. In March last year, the retired subject received a fake Mainland police call from his home saying that he was suspected of money laundering, and the subject handed over his account information and password according to the instructions of the other party, and four months later it was discovered that more than 3 million yuan of deposits had been transferred to 4 accounts in 6 times.

Senior Inspector Chu Weiyi, Crime Support Investigation Unit of Eastern District District, said that in the online shopping "Bullet Party" scam, fraudsters will deposit bad cheques into the seller's account to create the illusion of payment, but the bank will only deposit the money into the seller's account after one or two days of settlement.

Some fraudsters will use phishing SMS to deceive the owner of his personal and account information, and use the obtained credit card information to shop and resell for profit. (Photo by Chen Haoran)

In addition, the Police have recently continued to detect fraudsters sending phishing scams, falsely claiming that the points of the subject's telecommunications company or chain retail store will expire, inducing the subject to click on the link to the fake website in the SMS, enter credit card information, and use the information to shop and sell for profit. Ms Vivian Chu reminds members of the public not to enter personal information, credit card or other payment instrument information if they receive such SMS, and to check with the relevant merchants immediately. If in doubt, members of the public can use the Police's "anti-deception device" to input social media accounts, phone numbers, emails, etc. to assess the risk immediately; If you suspect that you have been deceived, you should immediately report to the police or call the 24-hour anti-deception hotline at 18222.

Yeung pointed out that in the case solved this time, the fraud syndicate would post on different social platforms saying that they could "grab quick money" and would be rewarded thousands of dollars by providing their accounts. She reminded the public not to rent, lend or sell accounts to anyone to avoid being used for money laundering.

Chief Inspector of the Crime Wing of Eastern District (left) and Senior Inspector of the Crime Support Investigation Unit Chu Wai-yee. (Photo by Chen Haoran)

Under the laws of Hong Kong, any person who provides assistance to a fraud syndicate, may commit the offence of obtaining property by fraud, and shall be sentenced to imprisonment for up to 10 years upon conviction; Those who provide an account to another person to dispose of the stolen funds may commit money laundering and be liable on conviction to a maximum fine of $500 million and imprisonment for 14 years.