A Canadian-Chinese woman living in Canada lost MOP4 million in a scam perpetrated by someone pretending to be the financial manager of a non-existent local casino, Judiciary Police [PJ] told Business Daily.
According to information provided by the PJ, the woman was contacted through a messaging app in May when she was in Toronto by a man claiming to be the manager of a local casino called ‘Running Horses’, who told her she could obtain a 1.25 per cent return every three months if she made a MOP2 million investment in the non-existent casino.
From June 19 to July 15 the woman was persuaded to transfer MOP2 million with the help of a relative in Mainland China to a Chinese bank account, later transferring another MOP2 million from Canada to another Mainland account.
A week after the transfer the woman realised the scam after conducting research that revealed that the ‘Running Horses’ casino did not exist and finding that she could no longer establish contact with the man who had contacted her.
The woman then travelled to the MSAR to file a complaint in the territory, with the PJ noting it is currently investigating the case.
Rising scam tide
The PJ also informed Business Daily that since July 20 there has been a ‘huge spike’ in the number of phone scams, with 30 residents affected – for a recorded loss of approximately MOP5 million.
On August 2 several phone scams led to the overload of the central line of public hospital Hospital Conde de São Januário (CHCSJ), causing delays to phone appointments for the hospital.
According to authorities, the modus operandi of the scam has changed, with scammers now claiming to be Customs officers, Immigration department officials and even Judiciary Police employees.
The PJ stated that government departments will ‘never’ contact residents by voice recording messages or ask them to remit or transfer money over the phone.
The increase in phone scams was so substantial from last month that the PJ conducted an emergency meeting with the Macao Post and Telecommunications Bureau and with local telecommunications provider Companhia de Telecomunicaçōes de Macau (CTM) to reinforce the protection of the public from such scams.