The cover story of the newspaper’s Money Post section on Monday notes that Hong Kong police “have recorded a 13.5% increase in deception in the first six months of the year, compared with the same period last year, with a total of 3,2260 cases reported to them in the first half”.
Telephone fraud accounts for nearly a third of all cases of all scams, the article notes, but fraudsters “constantly change tactics and, according to the police, they are increasingly contacting people by email”.
"Con artists are smarter than you think – you too could fall victim," the cover of the Money Post section says. Inside, the article is headlined "Lambs to the slaughter," and features an image of a wolf in a business suit, in front of a herd of sheep.
A separate article published alongside this story – told to an SCMP journalist by someone who asked to remain anonymous – describes what the paper refers to as “the case of the antique Bhuddha scam”.
It begins, “Let’s be clear on one thing right off the bat. I am not simple or naive. I am a professional, I speak multiple languages and I have a graduate degree. However, when someone cold-called me from Shenzhen offering to share their buried treasure, I made multiple trips across the border to see for myself, and came close to giving these people a lot of money.”
The annonymous professional goes on to describe how he or she, and a friend, nearly parted with 100,000 yuan (HK$122,990, $15,864, £9,800) in hopes of making a sizeable return once the buried treasure had been melted down and moved to Hong Kong, but at the last minute discovered stories of similar “Buddha scams” on the internet, and immediately “cut off contact” with the scammers.
“I got lucky. All in, I made four trips to Shenzhen, and spent about 600 yuan (HK$738,$95,£59) on cigarettes and hotel rooms,” the annonymous professional said.
‘More than 20 calls from clients’
In the main SCMP article, Green notes that scammers, "using dubious high-pressure sales techniques", have been selling "bogus carbon credits" to vulnerable consumers in Hong Kong.
DeVere alone "has received more than 20 calls from clients in Hong Kong who wanted a second opinion after being approached by people claiming to be brokers selling carbon credits", the article notes.
It says these scams initially targeted overseas investors, but "they are now targeting local consumers as well".
The article ends with tips on how readers can avoid becoming "a victim of fraud", including the advice that "if you are considering making an investment, ensure you only deal with a firm that is licensed to operate in Hong Kong by the Securities and Futures Commission".
It also advises readers to "check the SFC’s Alert List, which lists companies that are suspected of operating without a licence in Hong Kong", although it adds: "remember that fraudulent firms are constantly reinventing themselves and changing names, so do not assume that because a company does not appear on the list, it is legitimate".
To read the SCMP story in full, click here. (Access to SCMP stories is not free.)