Covid-19 drives computer crime rise
As pandemic keeps people at home and entry restrictions are tightened up, more and more fraudsters go online to fleece unwary residents.
Computer crime has increased in Macao, largely because Covid-19 has compelled people to stay at home. Police recorded 322 cases in the first quarter, an increase of 297.5 per cent.
“The possible reason for the enormous increase in computer crimes was that the Covid-19 pandemic has changed the lifestyle and consumption model of members of the public,” said Secretary for Security Wong Sio Chak. “They have been spending more time on the Internet, but [some of them] have failed to take sufficient safety measures or to raise their awareness of safety [when using the Internet].”
In the first three months of this year, Macao’s law enforcement agencies recorded 2,914 suspected crimes, a year-on-year increase of 20.8 per cent.
While crimes increased to 2,914 in the first quarter of this year from the 2,412 in the first quarter of 2020, it was lower than the 3,364 in the first quarter of 2019.
The total number of reported fraud cases increased 23.2 per cent year-on-year to 324 in the first quarter of this year, The Macau Post Daily Reported.
Reported extortion cases increased by 383.3 per cent year-on-year to 29 in the first quarter of this year from the same period of last year, when only six cases were reported.
Among the different kinds of fraud, cases in which criminals defrauded victims by persuading them to join bogus investment schemes saw “the most significant increase”.
The number of such cases rose by 18 to 26 in the first quarter of this year from the same period of last year, or a year-on-year increase of 225 per cent.
The police recorded 20 extortion cases related to online “naked chats” in the first quarter of this year, 19 more than in the same period of last year.
Of the 322 recorded computer crimes in the first quarter of this year, most involved online shopping with credit cards. The police recorded 264 such cases in the first quarter of this year, a year-on-year increase of 371.4 per cent.
Police attributed the “enormous” year-on-year increase in bogus investment schemes, naked chat extortions, and online shopping fraud to Covid-19, stricter border controls which have kept criminals out of Macao, and poor personal security which led to some residents revealing personal information.
Meanwhile, the number of reported violent crimes fell 10.1 per cent year-on-year to 71 cases in the first quarter of this year.