Online crime soars during Covid-19 pandemic
Credit card fraud runs rampant as customers shop from home, but while there is less violent crime, child sexual abuse is on the rise.
Macao’s crime rate fell 29.1 per cent to 10,057 last year amid the Covid-19 pandemic, Secretary for Security Wong Sio Chak has declared.
However, Covid-19 raised the number of reported computer crimes by 96.7 per cent to 531 in 2020.
Of the 531 computer crimes, cases involving online shopping with credit cards increased “noticeably” by 251.3 per cent to 411 from 2019 when only 117 such cases were reported.
“Consumption via online has become more popular with residents since Covid-19 last year,” Wong stated, adding that this situation “has given criminals opportunities to steal online users’ personal information by setting up fake websites or using Trojan horse malware”, enabling them to fraudulently use the victims’ credit cards.
Otherwise, fraud cases decreased 34 per cent to 1,007. While online dating scams dropped 17.3 per cent to 43, the number of cases in which criminals defrauded victims by persuading them to join bogus investment schemes rose 135 per cent to 94.
The police recorded 1,263 thefts and 26 robberies, a decline of 54.5 per cent and 67.5 per cent respectively from 2019.
Violent crime fell 63.9 per cent to 243, compared to the 673 cases reported in 2019.
Two homicides were recorded last year and both cases were “quickly” solved.
While rape cases decreased 32.6 per cent to 29 last year, the police investigated 24 child sexual abuse cases, an increase of 118.2 per cent, or 13 cases more than in 2019. Some of the 24 cases that were reported took place a decade ago.
The police also recorded 78 usury cases, a “large” drop of 87.1 per cent from 2019 and 37 cases of false imprisonment, a “large” decrease of 89.5 per cent, reported the Macau Post Daily.
False imprisonment usually refers to cases in which gamblers defaulting on their debts are held against their will by loan sharks in a hotel room or private flat to put pressure on the victims’ family and friends to pay up.
Police investigated 2,342 cases by using the citywide CCTV camera system, colloquially known as “Eyes in the Sky”.
And 147 violations by cabbies were detected, 3,025 cases less than in 2019, or a 95.4 per cent decrease. Police attributed the decline to the new law regulating the city’s taxi sector, which came into force last June. The violations included eight cases of overcharging passengers, a 99.6 per cent drop, and 32 cases of refusing to pick up passengers, a 95.3 per cent decrease.