Hong Kong police will release their first children’s book to raise awareness about scams, with most of the initial print run of 20,000 copies to be handed out to the city’s 1,000 kindergartens.

The theme of the book was fraud committed by phone and was chosen because it was one of the most common types of crime and the spectrum of ages affected was broad, the force said.

“We hope to use this theme to be an entry point to help children build up their anti-scam awareness,” said Chief Inspector Mak Po-yi of the force’s social media communication section.

Chief Inspector Mak Po-yi (right) of the force’s social media communication section introduces the book. Photo: May Tse

The picture book, at present available in Chinese only, is a collaboration with the department of early childhood education at the Education University of Hong Kong and features “Little Grape”, the force’s anti-scam mascot, and how it avoids falling victim to criminals in daily life.

In the first section, the “Big Grey Wolf” villain dresses up as Little Grape’s grandma in an attempt to trick the character into opening the door of the family flat. But Little Grape spots the disguise after seeing the wolf’s claws and hands.

In the next section, the wolf calls Little Grape pretending to be its aunt and tries to lure it to a nearby park. But it discovers the ruse when the wolf cannot provide the aunt’s name.

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Commissioner of Police Raymond Siu Chak-yee earlier this month warned of the prevalence of fraud cases over the past five years, highlighting that “guess who I am” phone scams had surged.

Of the 39,824 fraud cases recorded by police last year, online shopping accounted for 8,950, followed by 6,330 involving investment and 4,322 phishing scams.

Mak highlighted one case from 2022 involving a 12-year-old girl who received a call from a person who pretended to be a mainland Chinese security officer. Her parents were later blackmailed for HK$8 million (US$1.02 million) after the scammer claimed to have kidnapped the girl.

The force consulted Law Kit-ying, a senior lecturer of early childhood education at the university to create the book.

Law said she hoped it could become a useful reference for teachers and parents. She added few materials devoted to teaching children about scams were available on the market.

Mak said the force was also negotiating with the Education Bureau about making the book accessible on its website.

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She said that among the first print run of 20,000 books, about 75 per cent would be sent to the city’s kindergartens and 200 to public libraries.

Some copies would be used as awards for a carnival the force will hold at the West Kowloon Cultural District from Saturday to next Friday.

Teachers and students from the university’s department of early childhood education will also host two storytelling sessions centred on the book on Saturday.