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Police warn helpers to beware of men who borrow their ATM cards

29 July 2020

By Vir B. Lumicao


Marks of a scammer: A single-day deposit of more than $500k, and frequent withdrawals in smaller amounts

Police have warned foreign domestic helpers to be wary of male strangers they meet online, and ask to borrow their ATM cards for some financial transactions.

An officer at Mong Kok Police Station said there are many criminals in Hong Kong or overseas who con FDWs into using their bank accounts to “wash” illegally obtained money.

The Hong Kong Police said that in the first half of this year alone, there were 429 cases of these so-called love scams, a rise of 147 cases or 52.1% from the same period last year.

PINDUTIN PARA SA DETALYE

The money lost in this type of scam totaled $108.9 million so far this year.  

This was the same warning given to Jennifer (not her real name), a Filipina domestic helper, who filed a report with the police last week, after her bank alerted her to some huge amounts deposited into her account within just over a month.

When she asked the bank for her monthly statement, she saw that a total of $1.2 million in deposits and nearly the same amount in withdrawals had been made after she lent her ATM card to an African lover she met online.



“Don’t ever lend your bank account or give your personal details to other people,” the officer told Jennifer.

After inspecting Jennifer’s bank statement, the officer said the transactions indeed bore the hallmarks of money laundering.

But he said that the police couldn’t act on her complaint yet, as they needed the bank to endorse the case to them for investigation.


In the meantime, the officer advised the maid to stop seeing the man and call for police assistance just in case he reappears and she fears for her safety.

The officer told Jennifer it was likely her virtual boyfriend was doing the same thing to many other women.

“Personally, I won’t give my personal details even to my friend because he could use it against me in the future,” the officer said.

PINDUTIN PARA SA DETALYE

The police warning proved to be true as Jennifer was informed by an acquaintance recently hat her boyfriend had been dating another Filipina.

This was after he stopped taking her calls and text messages.

In her complaint, Jennifer told the officer she opened the savings account with HSBC on Apr 18 with an opening deposit of $1,000.
 
The scammer reportedly said he needed an ATM card to receive his salary (specimen photo)
She lent her ATM card and its password to her boyfriend on Apr 19 when he begged to use it just once to receive his salary because, accordingly, he did not have a bank account.

The maid said that when she asked the man to return her ATM card in subsequent meetings, he refused.

Tunghayan ang isa na namang Kwentong Dream Love

Then in their last meeting, the man asked her to open an account with Bank of China, but she declined. That was the last time she saw him.

The bank statement that Jennifer requested on police advice showed that between Apr 20 and May 25, over $1.24 million had passed through her account.

The biggest single transaction was a deposit for $506,000 made on May 20. On May 7, four deposits of $50,000 each was made in the same day, and the next day, $50,000 more was added into the account.

The withdrawals were made more frequently, but were usually in sums of $15,000 and $20,000.

Jennifer said she didn’t have access to her account without her ATM card, and only realized what her boyfriend had done when she received her bank statement.

She has since reported the matter also to the Consulate.



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