Follow this site by email:

Scams target Asian Australians


A photo of Sydney's Chinatown.

Asian Australians are losing millions of dollars on Hong Kong-based lottery scams, according to authorities in Australia and abroad.

Hong Kong Police say fraudsters involved in a lottery scam will contact victims via email, telephone or SMS telling them they have won a cash prize.

They will then ask the victim for an 'administration fee' before the cash can be deposited into his or her account.

The scam has netted nearly $A22 million in the last two years alone.

"…[T]here has been a number of Lottery Frauds reported to the Hong Kong Police by overseas Chinese living in Australia, New Zealand, United Kingdom, Canada and Singapore," Hong Kong Police's Commercial Crime Bureau said in a written statement.

"In 2009, Hong Kong Police received complaints of Lottery Fraud that amounted to over 71 million Hong Kong Dollars ($A10.5 million)."

Hong Kong Police have offered advice to potential victims on how to stay safe from such scams.

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) says it has received more than 330 complaints of scams targeting the Asian community.

ACCC's Peter Kell says the number may be a lot higher, with victims reluctant to report the scams to authorities.

Another scam involves convincing victims their relatives have been kidnapped, and demanding thousands of dollars in 'ransom' to free them.

Earlier this year, NSW Police issued a warning to Asian business owners in Sydney's inner-west to contact authorities immediately if they received threatening or abusive phone calls.

'We are treating these reports seriously and we encourage members of the Asian business community to continue to report these matters," Detective Sgt Aaron Power from Burwood Local Command said. 

Hong Kong Police has issued a video handout in Cantonese with Mandarin subtitles with re-enactments of the scams.