A man who attempted to swindle a member of the public by pretending to be an official from the mainland found himself phoning a TV reporter. The man ended up giving an interview instead.

The man, who was not named, told TVB that citizens should be more aware of fraudulent calls given the recent publicity surrounding the issue.

“Of course the aim is to trick you out of your money. There are a lot of gullible people in Hong Kong,” he said.

The news comes after the Chinese Liaison Office revealed it had received more than 2,400 calls over two days in July from residents checking to see if they had been called by the office. Police revealed at a press conference on July 29 that scam victims had handed more than HK$27 million to fraudsters posing as mainland officials in the first half of this year. There have been 200 of these types of fraud cases alone in 2015, compared to just four last year.

A man who was trying to swindle a potential victim out of their money found himself giving an interview to TVB instead. Photo: HKFP.

TVB reported that, one day after the police press conference, employees at the TV station were receiving automated messages from what appeared to be a courier company. The message told a reporter at the TV station that they had an important delivery pending and to press ‘0’ for any further inquiries.

After pressing ‘0’ the reporter was then connected to what appeared to be a phone at China’s Public Security Bureau in Shanghai’s Songjiang district. A supposed mainland official then said that the victim had submitted false travel documents and was required to pay a fine.

The reporter told the would-be scammer that he was speaking to a TVB reporter. The fraudster was then convinced to be interviewed about what he does to ensnare his victims.

A TVB report compares the real web page for the Shanghai Songjiang Public Security Bureau with the fake one used by scammers. Photo: TVB.

“People should have noticed that there were scammers posing as the Liaison Office or other organisations to try and commit fraud,” he said.

The man then told the reporter to compare and contrast the fake Shanghai Songjiang Public Security bureau website with the real one. He added that they would individually make several phone calls a day and were often very successful. However, they needed to make judgement calls on potential victims.

“You have to look at the individual as a whole and how aware he is. We are principled people. At least we leave enough money for people to live on.”

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Vicky Wong

Vicky is a British-born Chinese journalist with three years of experience covering UK politics. She previously worked for PoliticsHome and has interned at Sky News and CNN International. She also co-produced and filmed a documentary about the Hong Kong protests for MSNBC, which won the grand student prize at the 2015 Human Rights Press Awards. She has a BA in Politics and International Relations from the University of Reading and moved to Hong Kong in 2014 to complete a journalism masters at the University of Hong Kong.