May 9, 2023
By Murtuza Merchant
A total of nearly HK$10 million (US$1.3 million) has been lost by two individuals from Hong Kong after they were deceived by distinct scams involving digital currencies and Chinese equities.
A 66-year-old entrepreneur became a victim of a fraudulent scheme when she was convinced to invest in the cryptocurrency Tether by an imposter posing as a crypto specialist through a WhatsApp message.
The woman’s crypto wallet details were compromised when she clicked a link and provided her personal information, as per a police insider. Initially, she received HK$78,000 as profit, which led her to believe that the investment was genuine.
However, she later discovered the transfer of over 590,000 Tether coins, worth more than HK$4.6 million, from her wallet in 15 separate transactions between January 27 and March 31. She reported the incident to the authorities on April 12.
In another case, a 71-year-old man was swindled out of HK$5.15 million after he was misled into investing in mainland Chinese stocks via a fake trading app. The victim was enticed to download the platform by a person pretending to be an employee of a reputable financial investment trading firm.
The man transferred HK$5.15 million to nine different bank accounts as instructed, only to find that he could no longer access the platform or recover his funds. He subsequently reported the fraud to the police.
In 2022, the Hong Kong police dealt with 1,884 online investment fraud cases, marking a 92% increase from 980 cases in 2021.
The monetary value involved in such scams also rose by 96% to HK$926 million in 2022, compared to HK$472 million in 2021.
Furthermore, a 37-year-old woman lost HK$800,000 in an online employment scam known as click farming earlier in April, contributing to a total of 196 victims and over HK$40 million in losses related to this specific scam.
About the author
Murtuza Merchant is a senior journalist and an avid follower of blockchain and cryptocurrencies.