Police Report: Street Deceptions


Dropped Money

How does it work?

This type of deception usually involves a gang of two males targeting lone elderly persons. These swindlers will look for lone elders near banks or ATMs who have just withdrawn money. The first swindler deliberately drops some money right in front of the victim and walks off. At this time, the second swindler appears and picks up the money, then suggests halving the money with the victim. If the victim agrees, the second swindler will lead the victim to a quiet area nearby. Not long, the first swindler walks back and accuses the victim of picking up his money. The first swindler then demands to search the victim’s wallet or handbag to prove innocence. During which, the first swindler stealthily takes away the victim’s money. After both swindlers have left, the victim then finds that his money is stolen.

What is our advice?

.Stay alert and think twice before allowing any stranger to search your properties;

.Be accompanied when withdrawing large amounts of cash from banks or ATMs; and

.If needed, call the police for assistance immediately.

Money Swapping

How does it work?

Fraudster generally works alone or teams up with another fraudster, targeting money exchange shops or convenience stores.

A lone fraudster goes to a money exchange shop and requests to exchange a large amount of banknotes from HKD to CNY.  When the shop attendant passes on the requested amount of CNY banknotes to the fraudster, the fraudster then cancels the transaction with various excuses such as non-attractive exchange rate or he suddenly no longer needs to exchange the CNY currency, and asks the shop attendant to give him back the original amount of HKD.  When the shop attendant returns the original amount to the fraudster, the fraudster then changes his mind and requests for the CNY change again.  This is for distracting the shop attendant so that the fraudster can take the chance to remove some of the money and leave.

Another scenario commonly occurs in convenience stores.  The fraudster goes to a convenience store where he buys a low-value product of less than twenty dollars with a large denomination banknote of HKD500 or 1,000.  When the shop attendant gives change to the fraudster, the swindler then distracts the shop attendant by complaining and asking to swap a banknote given to him as it is worn out and dirty, or requests for returning his original large denomination banknote as he has found the exact amount for the product.  Finally, the fraudster leaves the store taking the change, the product as well as the original large denomination banknote.  The shop attendant only realises that he has fallen into a scam when checking the account again after the fraudster has left.

What is our advice?

.Shop attendants should ensure that the change amount is counted clearly in front of their patrons and then recounted again after each change;

.Shop attendants should excise extra caution when patrons buy a small amount of product with a large denomination banknote;

.Don’t be distracted when giving change.  When it is busy, seek assistance from other colleagues if needed.

Source: Hong Kong Police Force