Hong Kong SFC Clamps Down on Fake Crypto Exchange Websites

March 6, 2024

By Sharan Kaur Phillora

In a decisive move to safeguard investors, the Securities and Futures Commission (SFC) of Hong Kong has taken action against several fraudulent websites masquerading as prominent local cryptocurrency exchanges. On March 4, the financial watchdog issued a stark warning about multiple dubious sites attempting to mimic two of the city’s licensed crypto trading platforms, OSL Digital Securities and Hash Blockchain Limited, commonly referred to as HashKey.

Here’s what we know:

The SFC’s vigilant efforts have led to the identification and subsequent blocking of six counterfeit domains, namely hskexpro.com, hskex.com, hskexs.com, hskexit.com, oslexu.com, and oslint.com. These measures were prompted by numerous complaints from users about difficulties in withdrawing funds and exorbitant withdrawal fees and commissions.

In collaboration with the Hong Kong Police Force, the SFC has successfully restricted access to these deceptive websites, reinforcing its commitment to investor protection. These fraudulent sites now join others on the SFC’s official crypto alert list, including previous offenders who impersonated the MEXC exchange.

The regulator has strongly advised investors to exercise due diligence by consulting its public register of licensed entities and the list of licensed virtual asset trading platforms to confirm the legitimacy of trading platforms, including their official web addresses. “Investors should also refrain from sending money or making any transactions before verifying the counterparty’s identity,” the SFC emphasized.

Bartosz Barwikowski, a layer-1 security expert from Hacken, highlighted the challenges users face in distinguishing between genuine and fake websites, especially upon their first visit. He advised against relying solely on search engines or social media for verification due to the ease with which scammers can manipulate these platforms. Instead, Barwikowski recommends using mobile apps, which are less susceptible to impersonation, and checking third-party websites for additional verification.

This crackdown comes shortly after the SFC concluded its latest licensing cycle for crypto exchanges on February 29, setting a three-month deadline for unregistered platforms to cease operations in the region. The SFC’s proactive measures underscore Hong Kong’s ongoing efforts to establish a secure and regulated crypto trading environment.

About the author

Sharan Kaur Phillora’s thirst for knowledge has led her to study many different subjects, including NFTs and Blockchain technology – two emerging technologies that will change how we interact with each other in the future. When she isn’t exploring a new idea or concept, she enjoys reading literary masterpieces.

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