Fri, Jan 20, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Legislator gives scam warning

WATCH OUT A lawmaker held a press conference yesterday to warn the public about the latest schemes designed to part them from their hard-earned cash


Con artists and criminal gangs have come up with a host of new methods for pulling phone scams, a legislator said yesterday, warning the public to be on their guard.

Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Lin Hung-chih (林鴻池) also outlined the most prevalent scams and said that according to National Police Agency (NPA) figures, there were 43,342 reported scams last year while 10 years ago there were only 3,263.

Out of the 43,342 reported cases last year, only 21,436 offenses were solved, or 49.46 percent. Out of the total, 17,507 cases were phone fraud or fraud caused by cellphone messages.

However, many cases remain unreported as the attempted scams were unsuccessful, Lin said.

A professor at National Taiwan University of Arts, Chu Li (朱俐), said that she and her friend had almost fallen victim to one of these con artists.

One of the newest involves a person who calls pretending to be a close friend or superior at work and asks for emergency money, Chu said.

The con artist called Chu's friend pretending to be Chu, saying that her voice sounded different because she was sick and needed money to go to the hospital. However, when Chu's friend offered to meet her to give her the money the woman told her to wire the money to a certain account.

Becoming suspicious, Chu's friend then called several people asking if Chu was indeed sick but discovered that she was fine.

Chu said that she had received similar types of phone calls, including one allegedly from the district court telling her that she had an unpaid fine.

Worried, Chu called back and the person asked for her telephone number and address. Chu then realized that something was fishy and hung up.

According to anti-scam guidelines released by the NPA, the public should double check with their credit card companies or banks if they receive a phone call about any unpaid bills.

In addition, people should not give their address and identification numbers to strangers on the phone, taking calls from anonymous callers, or believe callers who tell them they've won money, the guidelines said.

All suspicious cases should be reported to the authorities by dialing 165.

Some of the most prevalent scams at the moment include con artists ringing doorbells claiming to be collecting old ID cards, automated phone calls from credit card companies saying people have unpaid bills and phone companies saying they want to return deposits.

The public should also be aware of calls claiming to come from district courts, phone threats from alleged gang members, or calls about applying for Internet banking services, Lin said.

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