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Tuesday, Apr 23, 2024

Warning as scammers fake police Scameter app

Warning as scammers fake police Scameter app

Hongkongers are warned of a fake anti-scam mobile app pretending to be the police force's scam-identifying search engine Scameter.
The Scameter search engine - accessible via the CyberDefender website - was introduced last September to help the public identify frauds and online pitfalls. It provides information to help identify suspicious web addresses, phone numbers, e-mails, platform user names and IP addresses. There are more than 820,000 searches to date and over 120,000 downloads of its mobile application.

A spokesman of the force's cyber crime unit said the scammers sent messages titled "urgent notice" to local residents claiming that more than HK$50 million has been recovered from a large-scale cross-border e-mail fraud case that happened in 2021.

Recipients will be asked to click on a hyperlink to download the fake version of the Scameter app. They will then be asked to register for an account with their mobile phone number and a password. But the legitimate Scameter app does not collect users' personal information or require a login, the spokesman said.

The scammers had pretended to be mainland enforcement officers and lured victims to enter their personal information on the fake app. They then asked the victims to pay a guarantee deposit of between 15 to 100 percent of the amount they lost in other scams to claim their losses. But those deposits went into the scammers' bank accounts, a police spokesperson said.

The fake app has been taken down. No one has been arrested so far.

Baron Chan Shun-ching, acting senior superintendent of the Police Cyber Security and Technology Crime Bureau, said "the real app could only be downloaded from the three official app stores or the police's CyberDefender website."

The police said that both the mainland enforcement agency and the local police never ask victims to pay deposits, adding that mainland enforcement officers would never handle cases remotely.

The force reminds citizens to search up the domain names of suspicious links before clicking them and to beware of the links that yield few search results to prevent phishing.

Police condemned the scammers for both "hurting the victims and the credibility of the police force."

Separately, a 47-year-old company director lost over HK$16 million in a cryptocurrency investment scam after becoming "friends" with a scammer who claimed to be an "investment expert" on Facebook in March.

The scammers convinced victims to download an app called "IGMEX" which was supposed to be used for investing in a virtual currency called USDT.

The victim was fooled into transferring the money to 16 bank accounts in 39 transactions since last month. He reported the case to police as he suspected he was scammed after not receiving the profits he made and was blocked by the scammer on social media.

The case has been handed over to the Kowloon City police district criminal investigation team. No one has been arrested so far.
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