Detectives from the Montgomery County Police Department – Financial Crimes Section are warning residents of a phone scam targeting Chinese residents. From May to August, seven Montgomery County residents have collectively wired approximately 1.5 million dollars to the scammers.
During this phone scam, the suspect(s) have called the potential victim (of Chinese descent) via phone. 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 scammers state that the receiver of the call has been involved in some wrong-doing and needs to wire money to China or Hong Kong in order to resolve the problem. Often, the receiver then receives additional calls stating that it has been determined that the receiver has not committed crimes but is actually a victim of identity theft. The receiver is instructed to wire money to clear his/her name. The receiver is often prompted to disclose personal information to include banking information. The receiver is threatened that if he/she does not comply, he will face consequences to include deportation and detention in a Chinese prison. The receiver is also told not to disclose the issue to anyone.
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.
Note to Media: A Financial Crimes detective is available this afternoon to speak about this scam. Please call the Public Information Office at 240-773-5030 (press 4) to make arrangements for an interview.