Hongkonger loses HK$7.1 million in cryptocurrency scam

Hongkonger loses HK$7.1 million in cryptocurrency scam

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“She became suspicious only when she failed to contact two online scammers and withdraw money from the trading platform,” the source said. “She found out she was a scam when she talked to her family about it.”

The victim filed a police report last Tuesday. Photo: Sun Yeung

He said one of the scammers approached the woman via Instagram in July 2022 before tricking her into investing in virtual currency through a link to a fake trading platform.

“Another suspect posed as a customer service representative of the trading platform and ordered the victim to transfer more than HK$7.12 million to designated bank accounts between August 19, 2022 and August 4. March 2023,” the source said.

According to the force's Scameter search engine, the name of the trading platform the scammers used was linked to a similar scam report. Police urged the public to verify the identity of the counterparty before making transactions or remittances and to remain vigilant before entering personal information.

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The source said that the victim claimed that she was not familiar with using Scameter and that she never received any warnings about scams on social media.

According to police, the Scameter platform, which can be accessed through the CyberDefender website, helps the public check for suspicious or fraudulent activity.

The search engine can help identify suspicious web addresses, emails, platform usernames, bank accounts, mobile phone numbers, and IP addresses.

Detectives from the Western District Investigation Unit are treating the case as “obtaining property by deception,” a crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

So far, no arrests have been made.

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Police figures showed a significant increase in online investment fraud, with 5,105 reports last year compared to 1,884 cases recorded in 2022.

Financial losses also increased to HK$3.26 billion in 2023, from HK$926 million the previous year.

The city recorded a 42.6 percent increase in all types of deception to 39,824 cases last year from 27,923 reports in 2022.

The amount lost rose 89 percent to HK$9.1 billion in 2023, from HK$4.8 billion a year earlier.

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