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Crypto Swindlers Steal $1.1 Million in Hong Kong

2 mins
Updated by Geraint Price
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In Brief

  • Phone phishing scams in Hong Kong lost older investors about $1.1 million.
  • An elderly lady lost almost $600,000 though a Tether investment.
  • Hong Kong police say voice alerts will accompany suspicious calls.
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Fraudsters have duped two senior citizens in Hong Kong out of $1.1 million through a phone phishing scam directing them to bogus trading platforms.

Scammers targeted a 66-year-old woman and a 71-year-old man to invest in Tether (USDT) and mainland stocks by posing as investment experts on online platforms.

Hong Kong Phone Scams Target Older People

A so-called crypto expert tricked the woman into investing in Tether through a malicious WhatsApp link leading to a site that harvested her data. The scammer gave the victim almost $10,000 in return to allay suspicion.

After seeing nearly $586,000 transferred to another wallet in 15 transactions across three months, the lady suspected a scam and contacted law enforcement.

Another “licensed” investment platform extorted $515,000 from a Hong Kong man by encouraging the use of a stock trading app. The man transferred funds to nine bank accounts but couldn’t access the platform to withdraw profits. He also reported the fraud to the police.

Technology-based crime accounted for more than two-thirds of fraud cases in Hong Kong last year. The first two weeks of April saw 196 jobseekers duped by a fraudulent, commission-based employment fraud that lost them $40,000.

U.K. and Hong Kong Governments Crack Down on Phone Fraud

Hong Kong police announced that anti-fraud messages would accompany calls from numbers with the +852 prefix starting in May. Residents can use an app called Scameter to determine the threat level of suspected fraud.

Hong Kong Scameter Threat Assessment | Source: Scameter
Hong Kong Scameter Threat Assessment | Source: Scameter

Despite these technological initiatives, Police Chief Raymond Siu believes banks could collaborate more to track illicit fund flows.

Criminals stole $127 million through phones the previous year, which has since dropped 48% as of Q1 2023.

On Wednesday, the U.K. announced a ban on crypto and insurance cold calling amid $9 billion in annual national losses. It also vowed to review access to mass-texting technology and announced new technology to detect when criminals impersonate legitimate U.K. callers.

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David Thomas
David Thomas, a seasoned electronic engineer with nine years of expertise, has built a distinguished career by combining his passion for writing with an in-depth understanding of...