How to Recover Money for Victims of Phone Scams,  Phishing Emails and Internet Fraud


There is a growing number of people falling victim to phone and email scams as well as cyber-attacks in recent years, resulting in fraudsters receiving funds and/or ransom payments. The purpose of this article is to look at some of the ways that a victim may take to claim his money back.


Reporting to the Police


This is often the first port of call. Fraud of any description including phone and email scam and internet fraud are criminal offences whereby money and/or property belonging to a victim can be lost. The victim should report the incident to the police as soon as possible. The money, property or any part thereof can be regarded by the police as articles or proceeds of a crime. The police have power to seize and/or impound the stolen property and the proceeds of a crime. This is a highly effective weapon to avoid the dissipation of the articles and proceeds of the crime.


However, whether the police can act swiftly depends very much on the sufficiency of the evidence and the circumstance of the case.


Working with the Bank


In cases where a victim has deposited the proceeds of a crime into a bank account designated by the fraudster, the victim could contact the bank and report that proceeds of a crime have been paid into the designated bank account. Assuming the funds in question have not been transferred out of Hong Kong, this warning may have the effect of preventing the bank from dealing with the funds deposited any further, even though the designed bank account has not been frozen as such. In other words, the funds may have been frozen by the bank pending further investigations. But the bank is unlikely to release the funds to anyone without justification or a court order.


Contacting the recipient of the funds or the property


There may be a situation where the proceeds of a crime are remitted to the bank account of, or the goods have been delivered to a third party. Sometime, the transaction may involve more than one layer of recipients. The recipient may or may not be an accomplice of the scheme. Therefore, it is advisable to write to the recipient demanding a refund or the return of the goods on the grounds that there is no contractual and/or other relationship between the victim and the recipient which may otherwise justify the payment and so on.


Civil Proceedings


Commonly, injunctive relief can be sought in the High Court to prevent the dissipation or removal of the funds and assets, so long as these funds and assets are still in Hong Kong.


Whether a victim can successfully plead a case of fraud depends on the available evidence. The victim may have to consider other causes of action against the fraudsters and/or the recipients.


Criminal Proceedings


The primary purpose of the criminal proceeding is to punish the accused if he is found guilty of an offence by the court. Sometime, the criminal court can make a compensation order in favor of the victim.


If you wish to know more about these matters, please feel free to contact our Mr. Albert Lam at


June 2023

By Albert Lam