Senior Citizens Fall Victim to Cryptocurrency Scams in Hong Kong | #whatsapp | #lovescams | #phonescams

Two Hong Kong residents lost a combined sum of roughly HK$10 million (US$1.3 million) after falling for scams involving cryptocurrencies and mainland Chinese stocks. On Thursday, a police source said that one of the victims was a 66-year-old lady who had been duped into sending money by a fake Bitcoin “expert” over WhatsApp in December as reported by local Chinese outlets.

How the scam was perpetrated

The victim, according to the source, was promised exorbitant profits on an investment in the digital token Tether. The ‘sweet talk’ love scam was the most prominent of the 100 cyber fraud suspects arrested by Hong Kong police on May 3, 2023.

After being tricked into opening a link and inputting confidential information, the victim had her Bitcoin wallet account data taken, the insider added.

She was informed the phony expert need the information in order to reimburse her for her earnings. However, the link took her to a malicious website where her personal information was stolen. To encourage her to trust the investment and reduce her guard, “in the first transaction, she was given HK$78,000 in profit,” he claimed.

More than 590,000 Tether tokens, valued at more than HK$4.6 million at the time, had been moved to another cryptocurrency wallet in 15 transactions between January 27 and March 31. This is when she realized it was a hoax. When she failed to hear back from her contact on April 12, she contacted the police.

More scams

A 71-year-old man reported an investment scam that cost him HK$5.15 million six days later. In January, he responded to a fake internet communication from someone pretending to work for a legitimate financial investment trading platform and fell for the hoax.

The police said that he fell for a scam that convinced him to download a fake trading platform and invest in equities on the mainland. The individual reportedly followed instructions and deposited HK$5.15 million across nine different bank accounts. Unfortunately, he was unable to access the site in order to cash out his earnings. A police report was then placed by him.

The number of reported incidents of Internet investment fraud handled by police officers increased by 92% to 1,884 in 2018. The monetary amount involved increased by 96%, from HK$472,000,000 in 2021 to HK$926,000,000 in 2022.

On Thursday, a 37-year-old lady reported losing HK$800,000 to a kind of online job scam dubbed “click farming.” More than HK$40 million was lost by 196 victims of the same job fraud in the first two weeks of April. Police have issued a warning to job-seekers to be on the lookout for the scam, which involves convincing victims to participate in phony marketing in exchange for a commission.

In 2017, police investigated 27,923 reports of fraud resulting in losses of HK$4.8 billion. More than two-thirds of the 22,797 complaints of technological crime last year included the internet, with a total loss of HK$3.2 billion. In 2,831 incidents, victims lost almost HK$1 billion to phone fraudsters.

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