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“Noticeable rise” in phone scams

The total number of reported scams increased 28.8 percent year on year to 219 in the first quarter, Secretary for Security Wong Sio Chak said on Monday, noting a “noticeable rise” in the number of reported phone scams which rose from 9 in the first three months of last year to 22 in the same period this year.

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UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 5:45 am

The total number of reported scams increased 28.8 percent year on year to 219 in the first quarter, Secretary for Security Wong Sio Chak said on Monday, noting a “noticeable rise” in the number of reported phone scams which rose from 9 in the first three months of last year to 22 in the same period this year.

Addressing a press conference about the city’s first-quarter crime figures at the Secretariat for Security (GSS) in the S. Francisco Barracks, Wong said phone scams had made a comeback, noting that such scams involved 24.9 million patacas in the first three months of the year.

According to Wong, most of the phone scams are committed by criminals pretending to be local or mainland police officers intent on tricking residents into transferring money into their bank accounts.

Wong said the Judiciary Police (PJ) had strengthened intelligence exchanges with the mainland police about the cross-border phone scams.

PJ Director Chau Wai Kuong said during the press conference that the mainland authorities had told bank tellers to remind Macau residents to be aware of scams when opening a bank account in Zhuhai.

Wong also urged residents to be cautious when receiving calls from people they don’t know, adding that residents should not disclose any personal information to strangers on the phone. If residents believe that they have been cheated, they should ask the police for help immediately, Wong said.

Commenting on a number of reporters and lawmakers from Hong Kong being refused entry into Macau during National People’s Congress (NPC) Standing Committee Chairman Zhang Dejiang’s three-day visit early this month, Wong stressed that the police are responsible for refusing entry to all those who could pose a threat to the city’s public security.

Asked by a reporter if the entry refusals were politically motivated, Wong denied this, insisting that the police not only carry out such measures to protect the city during a particular period or a specific event but on a daily basis.

However, Wong said he could not divulge the number of people who were refused entry because the data was confidential and the police have to follow international practices.

Regarding the recent case of three police officers arrested for allegedly running an illegal entry and exit scheme for mainlanders barred from Macau or overstaying in the city, Wong said the investigation into the case was initiated by the police, which showed that the police are determined to weed out black sheep.

Moreover, Wong said he was confident that the number of police officers involved in crimes would decrease by educating them.

According to Wong, the total number of crimes reported last quarter rose 5.1 percent year on year to 3,502. He said this was mainly the result of an increase in disobedience and counterfeit currency cases.

According to a GSS statement, no murder or kidnapping cases were reported last quarter while reported cases of violent crime rose 5.5 percent to 191 in the last quarter.

Regarding gaming-related crimes, Wong said that 105 false imprisonment cases were reported in the first quarter, up 18 percent year on year, while the number of reported loan-sharking cases decreased 16percent year-on-year to 89.

Wong said most of the suspects and victims of gaming-related crimes were non-locals, adding that one of the reasons for the increase in the number of false imprisonment cases was due to improved police efficiency.

“According to recent information on criminal cases… [the police] generally solve a case on the same day [the case was reported]. The Judiciary Police solved 20 false imprisonment cases in one day.” Wong said.

UPDATED: 22 Dec 2023, 5:45 am

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