Hong Kong’s police chief has offered reporters “anti-scam” chocolates to mark Valentine’s Day, calling on the public to “tell black from white” amid a recent uptick in deception cases.
Wrapping up a press conference about the past year’s crime statistics on Tuesday, Commissioner of Police Raymond Siu wished reporters a Happy Valentine’s Day before holding up a box containing two chocolates.
“Inside, there is a white chocolate and dark chocolate,” Siu said. “What’s the meaning? The meaning is that people must tell black from white. When facing potential scams, clearly analyse and recognise the situation, whether it is fraud.”
He said members of the public should call the police’s 24-hour “anti-scam helpline” if they have “any doubt at all,” or use the new “Scameter+” police mobile app.
The app, which will launch on Wednesday, will allow users to search phone numbers, websites, bank account numbers and other information to see if they have been connected to any fraud cases.
It is a spin-off of the police’s “Scameter” search engine, which was introduced in October.
The scam hotline is printed on the box of chocolates, along with a drawing of “The Little Grape,” the police “anti-scam mascot.”
According to the police, Hong Kong saw a 45 per cent uptick in fraud cases last year compared to 2021. Deception accounted for almost 40 per cent of all crimes reported.
The almost 28,000 fraud cases recorded last year included online shopping, employment, investment and phone scams.
Siu added that the police had cracked down on “several” scam syndicates, arresting around 1,300 people.
“[We] hope media outlets can step up their coverage of scams… in these scams, many people lose their life savings and go around borrowing money,” he said.
Driven by a rise in such cases, Hong Kong’s overall crime increased by 8.7 per cent last year. Crimes including arson, robbery and serious assault fell, while the number of homicide cases increased by seven to 30, police said, a more than 30 per cent increase on the previous year.
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