Scammers steal MOP 4.5 million from jobless woman

Police warn of sharp rise in “killing pigs” online scam.

online scam Macao

A jobless woman, in her sixties, reported to the Judiciary Police (PJ) on Tuesday that she had been defrauded out of more than MOP 4.5 million in an online investment scam.

PJ spokesman Ho Chan Nam said that the victim – who has not been named – met a netizen on a social media app called “SOUL” in September last year who asked her to download an app on her smartphone to invest in virtual currencies. 

After opening an account she made a string of remittances worth more than MOP 4.5 million into a bank account in Hong Kong between last year and mid-January. Ho said that the victim ignored advice from staff at a local bank to beware of fraud.

In the middle of January, when she was unable to log in to her account, the victim realised that she had been cheated and reported the case to the police.

Duty Supervisor of PJ I.T. Crimes Section Chong Kam Leong said that in 2019 the Judiciary Police handled 40 cases of so-called “killing pigs” fraud (殺豬盤 in Chinese), involving losses of more than MOP 22 million, compared to last year when they received 94 cases involving MOP 28 million. Chong pointed out that the scammers would add victims as “online friends” or after they became “online lovers” and subsequently invited the victims to download an app to buy virtual currencies. Chong stressed that the app was rigged by the scammers to show that the investments had made “profit”, allowing them to defraud more money.

WhatsApp scams

Meanwhile, six local female victims aged between 36 and 60 reported separately to the police on Monday that their WhatsApp accounts had been hacked. They told the police that they had received a six-digit verification code from “one of their friends” on that day in which they were requested to send the code back to their “friends”. Afterwards, the victims discovered that they were unable to login into their WhatsApp accounts. Ho said none of them suffered any losses despite the hacking of their WhatsApp accounts.

Chong said that the Judiciary Police had received eight cases of WhatsApp frauds in 2018 involving a loss of MOP 27,230 and 31 cases last year reported no loss, and as of Monday, they had already received 26 cases this month, involving a total loss of more than MOP 54,000.

Be on your guard

Chong warned that due to the recent increase in fraud cases commonly known as “killing pigs” and WhatsApp accounts being hacked, the public should be aware of any investment scams or hacking of their accounts. He reminded the public to be cautious and to be wary of online investments with guarantees of “high profits”. Investors should approach licensed financial institutions, to avoid being scammed. Chong also underlined that the PJ had collaborated with local banks to provide bank staff training on measures to advise customers on abnormal electronic remittances since July 2019. He urged citizens to be calm and think clearly before proceeding with any remittances and to accept advice provided by bank staff. Anyone suspecting they are a victim of a scam should call the PJ online dating prevention hotline 6233 5136 or fraud prevention hotline 8800 7777.

(The Macau Post Daily/Macao News)
Photo by Dylan Gillis