In what is thought to be one of Hong Kong’s largest phone scams, a 90-year-old woman was defrauded of $32.8 million dollars.
The scam started in August 2020, when the unnamed nonagenarian got a phone call from people posing as Chinese officials. According to reports, the scammers informed the woman that her identity was being used in a money-laundering scheme in mainland China, and that police were trying to solve the case.
One man is said to have visited the woman at her home in Victoria Peak, one of Hong Kong’s most affluent areas. The reports claim that the man gave her a telephone that she used solely to communicate with the imposters. The woman was then told that she needed to move money to other bank accounts that she didn’t own in order to help with the investigation. The wealthy woman eventually gave in and made 11 transfers between August and January 2021.
The woman’s domestic helper became suspicious of the supposed investigation, which led to the discovery of the con. According to reports, the employee contacted the woman’s daughter, who then pushed her mother to file a police report. In March, the woman followed through, but she had already lost nearly $33 million.
One person has been arrested in China in connection with the scam. Wong, a 19-year-old defendant, was arrested on suspicion of “obtaining property by deception.” The man has since been released on bail, but police have not ruled out further arrests.