How to Report a Cyber Crime or Internet Scam to the Hong Kong Police
Incomplete reports to the police or reports missing crucial / relevant information tend to be, in our experience, the most common cause of delay in a fraud case. This is why, it is important to know how to properly draft a report to the Hong Kong Police Force (“police”) mainly because it allows the police to understand your case and take immediate action in your case (e.g., freeze the bank accounts of the fraudsters). Time is of the essence whenever fraud is involved, and it can sometime make a difference between the stolen assets being safeguarded by the police and the fraudsters disappearing in the night with your hard money.
In a cyber fraud case, the police is initially interested to know the following information (a) how did you initially get into contact with the fraudsters, (b) how were you induced to make payments to a third party and (c) how did you finally discover that you were being scammed. Accordingly, we suggest that you divide your report to the police in three paragraphs.
First Paragraph - Origin Story
The information here is to help the police officer reviewing your report to understand the type of fraud that you have been the victim of. You need to explain in some details, the origin story of how you were defrauded.
If the fraudster reached out to you initially, how did he/she do so and where (e.g., social media, dating app) ? Do you have the person’s contact details ? If so provide them here.
If you found an advertisement or a website, how did you come across that advertisement or website (make sure to provide a link in the report)?
Second Paragraph - The Transfers
This is without doubt the most important part of your report. You need to explain in details how you were induced to transfer the money (e.g., transferring money to fund a fake investment account) and to whom (i.e., where did the money go?).
When describing the money transfer(s), it is important to include the date of the transfer, the amount transferred (including the currency), all the information about the account that was used to pay out the fraudsters (name of the bank account holder, bank account number, name of the bank), and all the information about the account where the money was sent to (name of the bank account holder, bank account number, name of the bank).
Third Paragraph - Discovery of the Scam
Finally, you need to explain how you have come to discover that you have been a victim of an online scam. It does not need to be very detailed but enough for the police to understand what has happened.
Evidence to be Submitted with the Report
We suggest that you submit the following documents in support of your police report:
- the relevant bank statement(s) showing the bank transfers to the fraudsters;
- screenshots of the conversation(s) with the fraudster(s);
- screenshots of the website(s) involved;
- copies of the documents used in relation to the fraud (e.g., fake loan agreement); and
- copies of relevant emails.
Identify the Main Character(s): There may be many “characters” in your story, but it is important to identify the main ones. Only report the people that you actually had contact with and reference the medium of contact used (e.g., social media, email, telephone). You have to assume that everyone involved in your fraud case is fake. Keep in mind that fraudsters are known to use fake identities/aliases, and fake images.
Keep your Story Simple: It is easy to get sidetracked. The simpler the story, the easier it is for the police to understand what happened. Conversely, the more convoluted your story becomes, the difficult it becomes to identify the culprit and take action.
Keep the Emotions Out of It: It is normal to feel a wide range of emotions about what you have been through and wanting to share the same with the police. However, it does not help, and it is a distraction for the officer assigned to read your report. Keep your report as factual and objective as you can.
Do Not Speculate: It is important to report only what you actually know. Speculating what may or may not have happened is a job for the police. Maybe in the future there will be an opportunity for you to share your observations with the police but at the reporting stage, those observations are very likely to be irrelevant.
Report your Story in Chronological Order: It is important to tell your story in chronological order for the reader. Consider starting your sentences with the dates (e.g., “On X day of Month Year,”).
Make Sure Hong Kong is Involved: It is important to make sure that the majority of the story involves Hong Kong one way or another. We often get contacted by victims and quickly realise that their case should be reported in other jurisdiction because Hong Kong is only tangentially involved in the story. For example, the fact that a fraudulent website states that it is located in Hong Kong does not necessarily mean that it should be reported to the Hong Kong Police Force.
If you have additional questions which are not addressed here or wish to schedule an appointment to discuss your case, please contact us by telephone on +852 2176 4777 or by email at [email protected].