Fraudsters offer to pay big for second-hand clothing in latest ruse to scam Hong Kong residents out of money

Fraudsters offer to pay big for second-hand clothing in latest ruse to scam Hong Kong residents out of money

Online scammers are impersonating recyclers of second-hand clothing to steal personal data including bank account details from Hong Kong residents, prompting police to warn the public over the ruse.

Fraudsters were creating deceptive webpages advertising lucrative offers for doorstep collection of used clothing, the force said in a post on its CyberDefender Facebook page earlier this week. One of the webpages was offering as much as HK$500 (US$64) per piece of clothing.

“[Swindlers] make it sound tempting,” the force said.

Those who responded to the offers were asked to contact customer service through WhatsApp and were then lured into downloading a mobile app, called “Panda Pack” to arrange the collection.

According to police, victims were requested to set the “Panda Pack” as the default messaging application and grant permission to access their cameras, call logs, microphones, phone and messages.

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Police have advised the public to use the force’s “Scameter” search engine or mobile app to check for suspicious or fraudulent schemes. Photo: Shutterstock

Victims were also asked to go to a sham booking interface where they were required to provide their address and credit card information.

Police said that through these steps, scammers could obtain personal information as well as credit card details from residents.

“In order to deceive people, tricksters spare no effort in creating fake pages, websites and mobile applications. One minor mistake can lead to falling into their trap,” police said.

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The force issued a warning to the public late last month after criminals conned residents out of more than HK$136 million through various internet frauds in the space of a week.

Police advised the public to use the force’s “Scameter” search engine or mobile app to check for suspicious or fraudulent schemes.

The app was upgraded in February to trigger automatic pop-up reminders on users’ mobile devices when receiving calls from suspicious phone numbers or visiting dubious websites.

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The search engine and mobile app are designed to help the public identify suspicious web addresses, emails, platform usernames, bank accounts, mobile phone numbers and IP addresses.

The city recorded 39,824 deception cases last year, a 42.6 per cent increase over the 27,923 logged the year before. The amount lost rose to HK$9.1 billion from HK$4.8 billion, an 89 per cent rise.

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