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Anti-scam webinar shows FDHs how to protect themselves & elderly wards

23 March 2021

By Vir B. Lumicao 

Saret and Lau at the start of the webinar done especially for Filipino DHs

More Filipino domestic helpers in Hong Kong are becoming victims of deception, but they themselves could help prevent their elderly employers from being conned.

This was disclosed in a webinar on deception conducted on Sunday, Mar 21, by the Hong Kong Police in cooperation with the Consulate. It was the first ever such project held by the police to educate the city’s legion of foreign domestic helpers.

“We, police, saw the rising trend in deception cases recently and many victims were Filipinos working in Hong Kong,” Chief Superintendent Lam Hung-chuen, commander of the Central Police District, said at the opening of the webinar.

Pindutin para sa detalye

Consul Paulo Saret, head of the Consulate’s assistance to nationals section, thanked Lam for initiating the project, which he said was timely because many Filipino workers have become victims of scams lately.

Lam said two key officers in the police anti-deception campaign had been invited to speak and educate the workers on various types of deception and how to prevent them.

Lee says deception is like a virus that is everywhere and could infect anyone

Senior Inspector Gerald Lee, assistant regional crime prevention officer of Hong Kong Island, said deception had increased threefold from 5,652 or 7% of total crimes in 2010, to 15,553 or 25% in 2020, a high ratio of one in every four crime cases.

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“Actually, deception is an excellent business,” Lee said. Deception is a mainstream crime in Hong Kong that poses a real threat to everyone, he said.

“We find that a lot of domestic workers fall victims to deception cases, so you should know more about deception,” the officer said.

Lee said the advent of technology has made living convenient for people, but has also turned the environment conducive for fraudsters who use the internet, social media, communications software, and email to reach victims anywhere in the world.


Lee said deception is like the Covid-19 virus that replicates and exists everywhere and infects anyone, so people have to get vaccinated to be immune to it.

“Deception and fraudsters are everywhere through the internet and they pose a real threat to us. If we are not cautious enough, we get deceived and lose our money,” Lee said.

In some minor cases like online shopping, the loss is just a few hundred dollars, but in a few serious telephone deception cases, the victims lose large amounts of money, including all their savings or a few million dollars.



He said by knowing more about deception, the workers get more protection from it.

Lee first discussed “romance scam,” a common form of deception done through social media. He said many people use social media to find their partner and get into a relationship, but some end up getting deceived and losing a lot of money.

Fraudsters use social media and dating apps to get acquainted with victims to whom they introduce themselves as professionals like doctors, engineers, soldiers, and retirees. They will show care and concern and use sweet words to gain the victims’ trust.

Tunghayan ang isa na namang kwentong Dream Love

Once successful, they ask for financial aid claiming they’re in trouble, or send “high-value” special gifts for which the victim must pay a huge customs fee, Lee said.

Lee disclosed a new deception that combines romance scam and investment scam. In this trickery, after the scammer establishes a relationship, he lures the victim into high-yield investment plans and download an alleged investment mobile app.

The scammer then tells the victim to remit money through the mobile app as instructed.  Inspired by the initial high return, the victim invests more until she loses all her money.

Other scam methods involve shopping online, where the victim is enticed by a fraudster posing as a seller to buy goods through the e-shopping platform. The victim is instructed to pay upfront, but doesn’t receive the goods. The seller then becomes out of reach.

In another version, the fraudster poses as a buyer of goods, sends proof of payment so that the seller ships the merchandise to him. But the remittance receipt turns out to have been photoshopped and the deposited check forged, resulting in a loss to the seller.

Luk says many telephone scams target the elderly so helpers must know how to help them

Gary Luk, police senior inspector from the Anti-Deception Coordination Council, said in February this year, there were 39 telephone deception cases that led to a loss of $18.2 million, an increase of 148% from the same month last year.

Luk said there are two types of telephone deception, the “guess who” and “pretending officials”, in which scammers from the mainland target elderly Hong Kong people.

In the first type, the scammers disguise as mainland officials investigating the victim for criminal offenses. They then ask the victim to give money or his e-banking credentials to prove his innocence. In this scam, the victim can lose his lifetime savings, Luk said.

He said Filipinos are not within the reach of this type of scammers, who only speak Mandarin and Cantonese. But the workers play a very important role as key influence agents to halt the scam that target the elderly, most of whom don’t live with their children but with the helpers, who are the main care providers,” the officer said.

Luk sad in several cases, the helpers saw their elderly employer talking lengthily and nervously on the phone. The scams were halted when the employers’ children were alerted.

In the “guess who” type, the fraudster makes a call pretending to be a relative of the victim and asks for money, saying that another relative is in trouble. He asks the victim for help and tells him to transfer money in a designated bank account, then disappears. 


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