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Police Warn of Phone Scam Targeting Chinese Residents Which Has Already Cost Victims $1.5 Million

Montgomery County Police are warning residents, especially residents of Chinese descent to be aware of a phone scam which has already victimized seven county residents of over a million dollars.

Detectives from the MCPD’s Financial Crimes Section have been investigating an elaborate and complicated phone scam which targets Chinese residents. According to police, from May to August seven Montgomery County residents have collectively wired approximately $1.5 million to the scammers who are believed to be based overseas.

The scam begins with a set-up phone call to the potential victim, who is of Chinese descent. The scammers use some, all, or a variation of the following: The scammer, speaking in a dialect of Chinese, states that he/she is from a Chinese or Hong Kong government organization such as a law enforcement agency located in China or Hong Kong, a government prosecutor, or the Chinese Embassy in Washington, D.C.

The victim is told that they have been accused of some sort of wrong-doing by authorities in China or Hong Kong. The scammers state that the receiver of the call needs to wire money in order to resolve the problem.

Often, the receiver then receives additional calls stating that it has been determined that the victim has not committed crimes but is actually a victim of identity theft. At this point, the receiver is instructed to wire money to clear his/her name. The victim is often prompted to disclose personal information to include banking information. The victim is threatened that if he/she does not comply, he will face consequences including deportation and detention in a Chinese prison. The receiver is also told not to disclose the issue to anyone.

According to police, in these particular types of financial crimes, because the suspects are believed to be located outside of the United States, it is even more difficult for investigators to identify and prosecute the suspects and recoup the victims’ money. Investigators are urging residents to share this phone scam information, particularly those residents in the Chinese community. Anyone who believes he/she has been a victim of this scam and has not reported to the Police Department is asked to call detectives at 240-773-6330.

File Photo by Germantown Pulse.