Phone scams in China conducted by mainland Chinese people abducted in Southeast Asia by the Taiwanese are being eradicated, meaning phone fraudsters are targeting Hong Kong, says the China Liaison Office.

The Chinese government division’s Deputy Director for Police Liaison Division, Ng Kwok-chun, said that phone scammers have been forced to seek a “new market” in Hong Kong because previous schemes, in which mainland Chinese people were abducted and coerced by Taiwanese criminals in Southeast Asia to conduct scam calls, have been suppressed by mainland forces. He discussed the phone scams on a radio programme on Tuesday.

China Liaison Office
The China Liaison Office in Hong Kong.

He said there were 300,000 of such cases in 2013, involving a total of RMB$10 billion (HK$12.1 billion).

However, Ng said it is still not known if the recent phone scams in Hong Kong were under the control of Taiwanese criminals.

The China Liaison Office sought assistance from the Hong Kong police after a recent increase in phone scams, in which potential victims are asked to transfer money to an unknown bank account. The phone calls came from individuals claiming to be officials working for the Liaison Office.

Ng said more than 10,000 people made inquiries with the Liaison Office in July after receiving suspicious phone calls. One victim of the scam lost more than HK$1 million.

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.