#romancescams | More efforts needed to combat online and phone scams – Secretary for Security

The Secretary for Security Wong Sio Chak stated today (Monday) that more efforts will be undertaken to prevent and fight online and phone scams targeting local residents, including appointing more investigation teams, increasing regional cooperation and enforce better mechanisms to suspend bank transactions.

The Secretary made the comments while responding to legislator questions over the 2021 policy address at the Legislative Assembly (AL).

While responding to a question by legislator, Ella Lei Cheng I, on planned measures to prevent the high number of online scams targeting local residents, Wong stated that a new anti-scam mechanism for the urgent suspension of bank transfers has already allowed for MOP9 million (US$1.1 million) to be saved from scams in the first nine months of this year.

“The mechanism allows for the amounts to be returned if there are indications of a phone scam, the bank employee will warn that person to not proceed with the transfer,” the Secretary stated.

The system is included in a series of measures for cancelling the transfer of doubtful transactions and issuing messages of transactions of card-games in order to reduce, as much as possible, the economic losses of eventual victims.

The Secretary also revealed that between January and September of this year local police authorities initiated 302 investigations for online scams, 74 more than last year, involving some MOP15 million in total.

Some 34 online scams involved ‘romance scams’ where scammers strike up a relationship with their targets online to build their trust and request for money.

“We have to continue reinforcing our efforts. Two days ago I asked the Judiciary Police (PJ) to divulge more information to increase awareness in society of these cases,” the Secretary added.

However, during the same period phone scam investigations dropping to only 23, after 83 were reported on the same period of last year.

According to the 2021 Policy Address document, the Macau PJ will also strengthen cooperation relations with local higher education institutions, to carry out more specific awareness-raising activities for preventing online and phone scams while continuing to use the joint fraud prevention mechanisms in cooperation with telecom operators, banking sector, higher education institutions and Mainland China police.

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