To deal with a rapid surge of telephone deception cases with new modus operandi, District Fight Crime Committees (DFCC) and the Force joined forces on August 9 in staging a bus parade to drive fight crime messages home and remind the public to watch out for phone deception.
Kowloon East Senior Superintendent (SSP) (Crime) Tsang Ching-fo pointed out that telephone deception involves cross-boundary crimes with different modes of operation, to which the public should remain alert.
Police figures show that in the first seven months of this year, there were 2 371 phone deception cases with monetary loss amounting to $175.7 million, a surge of 70 per cent compared with 1 395 cases in the same period last year.
There was also a sharp rise in phone scams with swindlers posing as Mainland officials. There were a total of 1 038 cases in the period from January to July this year, with as many as 838 cases involving a total amount of $126 million reported in July.
SSP Tsang commented, "The police are very concerned about this type of crime. For in-depth investigation, we've set up a special unit to co-ordinate a territory-wide strategy. On the other hand, publicity is being stepped up to tackle the crime. In view of the changes in modus operandi, the victims of 'pretend Mainland officials' cases, unlike the cases in the past mainly involving the elderly, came from different sectors, including professionals and students, etc. Therefore, our publicity is wide-embracing. We hope today's bus parade would drive crime prevention messages home to every sector so that all citizens would stay vigilant."
On that day, DFCC chairpersons and representatives, Senior Police Call (SPC) and Junior Police Call (JPC) members as well as police officers boarded an open-top bus carrying banners with fight crime messages at Lam Tin in Kwun Tong and headed for various districts, stopping at Tuen Mun, Tsuen Wan, Cheung Sha Wan in the New Territories and Kowloon as well as Causeway Bay on Hong Kong Island.
On the way, leaflets and souvenirs were distributed at the stopping points, reminding the public to stay vigilant against phone scams.
Every unit of the Force is using different channels to promote prevention of telephone deception so that publicity would be far and wide. The followings are some of the related efforts.
The Police Community Relations Office (PCRO) of Eastern District (EDIST) teamed up with Wan Tsui Estate Management Advisory Committee and the Hong Kong Chai Wan Residents Association in organising a "Caring of Elderly for Prevention and Fight Crime Carnival" on August 8, attracting the active participation of local residents.
Officiating at the event were Assistant Divisional Commander Chai Wan Division Lam King-kai, Police Community Relations Officer of EDIST Ku Siu-fai, Vice-chairman of Eastern District Council, Mr Kung Pak-cheung, District Councillor, Mr Fu Yuen-cheung, Vice-chairman of Eastern District Fight Crime Committee (EDFCC), Mr Leung Chi-kong, and EDFCC members. The carnival brought crime prevention messages home with booth games, interactive quiz and distribution of publicity leaflets and souvenirs.
The Regional Crime Prevention Office (RCPO) of Kowloon East (KE) and the Sze Shun Area Committee, which comprises the Shun Chi Court, Shun Lee Estate, Shun On Estate and Shun Tin Estate in Sau Mau Ping District, held an Anti-Deception Talk for over 500 elders in Lok Wah Estate on July 8.
RCPO KE officers briefed the elders on the recent spate of phone scams, and reminded the audience not to accept the caller's words easily. If in doubt, they should alert their families or the police.
Acting Sau Mau Ping District (SMPDIST) Commander Cheung Shun-ho hosted a briefing session on August 4, for Kwun Tong District Councillors, Kwun Tong DFCC members, area committee members and JPC presidents, and outlined the recent trend and modus operandi of phone scams.
On August 5 and 7, Mr Cheung, together with officers of PCRO SMPDIST, District Councillors, Kwun Tong DFCC members and the local community representatives, distributed leaflets at various public housing estates to drive home anti-deception messages.
On August 9, at a road safety carnival held at Hong Ning Road Recreation Ground, SMPDIST Police Community Relations Officer Yiu Hon-sang was joined by SMPDIST JPC members in calling on the participants to watch out for crimes.
The PCRO of Marine Port District (MPDIST) joined hands with RCPO of Marine Region and MPDIST SPC members, and offered two anti-crime seminars for residents of Cheung Chau and Peng Chau on July 30 and August 6 respectively.
In the seminars, an interactive drama was staged to illustrate the latest modus operandi of phone scams. It was followed by a question-and-answer session, drawing an enthusiastic response and many questions from the audience.
Kowloon City District (KCDIST) launched a series of publicity activities to drive anti-deception messages home, including publishing the latest modus operandi of phone deception on KCDIST SPC's newsletter, distributing fliers and putting up posters in housing estates, shopping malls and other crowded public places, as well as hosting anti-crime seminars and anti-crime dramas at elderly homes.
Sham Shui Po District (SSPODIST) rolled out a series of anti-deception publicity drives to engage major stakeholders in crime prevention in the past few months, including area committees, estate management companies and shopping centres, restaurants, banks and money changers, and centres for the elderly and the youth. A large-scale education campaign, consisting of briefings and road shows, attracted over 2 000 persons. Working closely with the SSPODFCC, District Council and SPC members, SSPODIST officers distributed posters and fliers in public and private estates, shopping centres, restaurants, universities, MTR stations, banks and money changers with a view to raising public awareness of deception.
Acting Tai Po District (TPDIST) Commander Lau Fung-ha called at the branch offices of two banks in Tai Po on July 30 and presented letters of appreciation to their frontline staff members for foiling two phone scam attempts recently.
At the same time, TPDIST Detective Inspector Lau Kai-ho introduced to bank staff an anti-telephone deception mobile phone text message designed by the RCPO of New Territories North to enhance bank staff's awareness of phone scam.
The Police Community Relations Officer of Airport District (APTDIST) Tang Wai-han delivered a talk on the crime in AsiaWorld-Expo to staff members at all levels on August 5.
The following day, APTDIST officers also distributed fliers at the two airport terminals to remind the public and retail shops to stay calm, not to disclose any personal data before verifying callers' identities, and alert the police if in doubt.
Ma On Shan (MOSDIV) officers conducted road shows and distributed anti-phone scam leaflets at crowded places in the past few months. In addition, MOSDIV enhanced liaison with major stakeholders on the prevalent crime trends through a Police Public Partnership Platform, including District Councillors, representatives of non-governmental organisations and estate management companies.