Police in Hong Kong have begun publishing details of crypto fraud cases – in the hope that the public will take valuable lessons from cases that have seen people lose thousands of dollars to crypto villains.
Per Takungpao, the move is part of the Eastern District police force’s “Operation Shield” program – a drive aimed at “raising awareness of fraud and fraud prevention.” Officers stated that fraud cases are on the rise in Hong Kong, with crypto scams a particularly fast-growing trend.
The police stated that, on average, fraudsters claim a cumulative USD 2.5m per day from Hong Kong-based victims.
The program will see the police publish details of cases in a monthly magazine – and began with the case of an engineer who was allegedly stung by crypto scammers to the tune of almost USD 1m.
The victim, police stated, came to a police station to file a report on July 23 this year, explaining that he had been approached by fellow users of the social media and chat app platform WeChat. These individuals had introduced him to what turned out to be a “fraudulent virtual currency investment platform” that offered investors high returns.
The bogus platform appears to have been highly sophisticated in nature. The engineer explained that he had “opened an account” on the platform, “as instructed by customer service.”
Over the course of 10 days in July, the police explained, the engineer then proceeded to make 28 tether (USDT) deposits to what later turned out to be “numerous puppet accounts held by the fraudsters.”
At first, the victim seemingly believed that his “investments” had paid off, as the platform’s interface appeared to show that he was making profits. At this point, “he was not suspicious,” officers continued.
But matters promptly soured when the engineer attempted to quit while he was ahead. He attempted to withdraw his funds, but was promptly “asked to pay a huge handling fee.”
Soon his “so-called ‘investment account’” was suspended, and the victim’s funds – reportedly half of his life savings – evaporated into nothing.
Scams involving USDT and other USD-pegged stablecoins have been on the rise in both Hong Kong and Mainland China in recent years.
With Beijing cracking down heavily on crypto in recent years, bitcoin (BTC) markets have become increasingly hard to access – despite relatively high levels of demand for BTC. As such, Mainland-based traders have been increasingly keen to get their hands on USDT and other stablecoins in a bid to buy bitcoin through over-the-counter (OTC) marketplaces. This has led to a rise in USDT-related activity in Hong Kong and other Asian regions, as well as a spike in USDT-themed scams.